26 Sep 2008

PNG Forest Service rejects claims that tens of millions cannot be accounted for

10:05 am on 26 September 2008

Papua New Guinea's National Forest Service has rejected claims that it cannot account for close to 40 million US dollars.

The claims, in a local newspaper, suggest the money disappeared between 1999 and 2005 and the Auditor General's office cannot conduct an audit of the Forest Service's accounts because of insufficient documents.

But the Managing Director of the Service, Kanawi Pouru, says that's incorrect.

He says while there were difficulties up to 2005, audits for 2006 and 2007 will be completed shortly.

He says the so called missing money was the combined sum of the budget allocations from 2000 to 2005.

Mr Pouru took over 18 months ago and his focus has been on getting the records up to date.

".So that is when we sort of focussed and exerted a lot of our attention to that and both the co-operation of the auditor general because they had to appoint an independent auditor to come in to do that, and I have to also appoint a financial accountant to do the financials for us, so the auditors can come and do that. So all that work was going in the last 18 months."