15 Nov 2007

Concern in PNG over use of slush funds

6:51 pm on 15 November 2007

The Institute of National Affairs in Papua New Guinea says an empowered community would ensure better monitoring of beefed up District Service Improvement Grants.

In the budget due next week, the PNG Government is expected to increase the grants, known as slush funds and paid to each MP, to as much as three and a half million US dollars.

The Institute's executive director, Paul Barker, says the scrutiny would be helped if the public were fully informed and the watchdog agencies, such as the Ombudsman's Office, were funded properly to allow them to fulfill their roles.

"But as was pointed out by the Ombudsman at the National Development Forum, everyone is a watchdog. It is not just those official bodies but it is the wider community, so that includes the private sector bodies, the chambers of commerce, the accountants association, but also local leaders, church leaders and other people. So it is a case of trying to empower the community."

Paul Barker