PRESS STATEMENT: PUBLISH COVID FUNDING REPORT AND RESTORE PUBLIC TRUST
Friday, 23rd April 2021 Port Moresby – As concerns over the abuse of COVID-19 funding have been heightened in the past few weeks, with new allegations of the awarding of contracts to public servants suggesting a direct conflict of interest. TIPNG has now called on the government to release all reports on funding for the COVID-19 response to restore public trust. Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has been calling for greater accountability of COVID-19 funds since the initial declaration of the State of Emergency (SOE) in 2020, and subsequent emergency declarations.
“In the absence of reliable and readily available expenditure reports, public trust in both the National Government and the National COVID-19 response is greatly weakened. It is understandable that citizens will be skeptical and suspicious of the Governments’ handling of public health matters if they do not have full confidence in the management of public finances,” said Peter Aitsi, TIPNG Board Chair.
“Building on from the initial efforts in 2020 to track COVID-19 funding, TIPNG is sharing information from the most recent World Health Organisation situation report on PNG which includes funds received through the Government’s Trust Account. However, this is not all the information, for instance, there has been no consolidated public report released on international donor assistance received by the government or audited expenditure report presented in Parliament,” he said.
To ensure informed public debate, the National Government’s Financial Procurement Committee, under the Pandemic Act, must release to the public the following:
- a detailed expenditure report for any procurement authorized by the office of the Emergency Controller.
- a breakup of the Bilateral and Donor assistance, financial or otherwise, received to date.
- a summary of funds allocated to Provincial Health Authorities, as well as acquittal status.
- the full Internal Audit Report by Pape Accountants In 2020.
While Parliament has now been adjourned to August 10th 2021, the matter of transparency and accountability in the management of COVID-19 funding remains as urgent as ever. TIPNG now calls on the National Government and the Financial Procurement Committee to prioritize the release of this information, as it is critical to restoring public confidence not only in the COVID-19 response effort, but also in the PNG Government as a whole.