20 May 2009

Much of Australian aid money to PNG consumed by consultants

9:03 pm on 20 May 2009

It has been revealed that Australian taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for top level consultants in Papua New Guinea who earn nearly three hundred thousand US dollars a year tax-free.

The AAP news agency says documents it has show the consultants receive tax free allowances that cover accommodation, 'hardship', medical or utility fees.

An agreement between the Australian and PNG governments gives aid advisers tax-free salaries, putting a married senior consultant in PNG on approximately 24 thousand US dollars a month, netting them 280 thousand a year.

Australia's aid agency, AusAID says there are around 250 long-term advisers and around 50 short-term advisers working under the PNG-Australia development program.

It is estimated that around half of the hundreds of millions of dollars given in aid to PNG goes to agents, consultants and staff who provide 'technical assistance' to PNG.

Last month the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said too much money has been consumed by consultants and not enough money is being delivered to essential assistance in teaching, in infrastructure and in health services.