Madang Provincial Administrator Bernard Lange is accused of improper behaviour over the payment of K500,000 to a group of landowners. It is alleged the payment was made against the advice of senior officials, made without proper procedures being followed and was organized in just 48 hours after Lange put pressure on the Provisional Treasurer to release the cheque.
The Director Natural Resources, Francis Irara, has written to the Provincial Treasurer to voice his concerns about the legality of the payment.
In the briefing paper prepared by Irara he says the K500,000 cheque was personally obtained by Bernard Lange who pressured the Treasuruer to relaese the payment. The cheque was given by Lange to MP Alois Kingsley to present to the landowners. Irara says the whole transaction was organized in just two days.
PNGExposed has received more details about Madang Provincial Administrator, Bernard Lange’s obstruction of efforts to tackle the endemic corruption in his administration.
Since we revealed the letters from the Secretary of Finance in Port Moresby requesting Lange to attend Provincial Audit Committee meetings and provide the committee with the information it needs to carry out its investigations, a number of sources have stepped forward with further information.
These sources have revealed that rather than complying with the instructions from Port Moresby and assisting the committee the February meeting of the Audit Committee was cancelled as the Chair was ill and two subsequent scheduled meetings were cancelled as Lange was “not available”.
Finally, both Lange and his Treasurer, Soten Uriah, turned up to the June meeting (eight months after they had received their letters from the Department of Finance). The pair did table some reports but they were not circulated to the Committee members before the meeting . These were complex financial reports which required careful reading and consideration. When the Chair of the committee suggested that the start of the meeting be deferred for an hour or so to allow members time to read the reports, Lange said there was no time for that as he had to be leaving soon. The meeting was therefore unable to engage in any meaning consideration of the information provided.
The Chairman, as we know, subsequently resigned over the lack of cooperation from the Administrator and his failure to support efforts to tackle corruption.
The Madang Provincial administration is starting to leak like a sieve – which shows there are some honest public servants.
Madang Administrator Bernard Lange and his Treasurer have ignored instructions from the Department of Finance in Port Moresby to clean up the endemic corruption in their offices.
We have already revealed the Chair of the Madang Provincial Audit Committee has resigned over the lack of action on corruption and provided examples of the type of corruption that plagues the Province. In response a number of sources have come forward with further information.
The letters below show the Department of Finance in Port Moresby has had to write to both Lange and Treasurer Soten Uriah requiring they attend Provincial Audit Committee meetings set up to tackle instances of corruption. Sources have further confirmed that although both men have managed to attend at least one meeting of the Audit Committee since the letters were received they have failed to provide the Committee with the documentation and other information it has requested or to ensure other Divisional Heads attend and cooperate. This deprives the Committee of the information it requests and the authority required to fulfill its functions.
Madang Administrator Bernard Lange is refusing to acknowledge the considerable evidence of corruption within his organisation or do anything to deal with the problem.
The Chair of the Provincial Audit Committee has recently resigned over the indifference shown to its findings, as we revealed last week.
A further small example of the problems within the Province is shown in the photographs of a school classroom at Gum on the outskirts of Madang town. Bahubo Building Contractors was awarded the contract to build the classroom and work started in 2009 – but it has never been completed and the half-finished building is unusable. These is despite K100,000 having been paid out to the contractor.
The payments made were as follows: Cheque number 219719 dated 23/03/2009 for K50,000; Cheque number 222915 dated 22/09/2009 for K35,000; and Cheque number 227942 dated 14/12/2010 for K15,000. The last cheque was a final payment and when it was drawn all work on the classroom ceased.
Bahubo Building Contractors have been paid K100,000 out of tax payers money to build a much needed classroom but have never completed the job. The Madang Administration has taken no steps to ensure the work is completed or recover the money paid.
The Madang Administration and Bahubo Building Contractors have defrauded the people of Papua New Guinea and cheated the pupils, staff and parents of Gum school.
The Provincial Audit Committee in Madang has uncovered evidence of corruption by officials on a grand scale but that evidence is being wilfully ignored by the authorities.
The Chairman of the Madang Provincial Audit Committee has resigned because of the lack of support for his committee’s work from the Madang Provincial Administration and the Department of Finance.
Last year the Chairman of the Audit Committee wrote to both the Governor, Jim Kas, and the Department of Finance in Port Moresby expressing his concern about corruption but both letters went unanswered.
By Racheal Shisei
“Developers are here to put coins into your pocket and mine so don’t upset them.“ That’s from the Madang Provincial Administrator, Bernard Lange who chaired the meeting between the Transgogol Landowners of Madang and the Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Timber Logging Company. Lange told the Land Owners that Asian companies like RH, have contributed to a lot of development in the country, like building roads and bridges.
This meeting held at the Madang Provincial Government Conference room was to discuss why RH is trespassing on the Gogol road and paying royalties to Jant, the previous Logging Company in the area instead of the Land Owners, why RH is dumping wastes into the rivers, why it hasn’t constructed any proper bridges and improve the roads and why it started logging down trees in the area without consulting any of the Land Owners.
Most questions from the Land Owners were fired across the room to the Provincial Forest Officer, Eileen Kolokol who never attempted an answer, instead letting Administrator Lange speak for her all throughout. For a moment it seems the Administrator was covering for her before she could have a chance to speak, but her facial expression clearly showed she wasn’t going to like it was all planned. RH had a representative present to which, the Administrator was answering questions on their behalf like he did for Eileen the Forest Officer. In doing so the Administrator was in most cases only instructing one of his assistant officer to write down the direct questions which required straight forward answers from RH and the Forestry officer there and then.
One of the Land Owners fired back at the Administrator, the Forest Officer and the RH rep, asking what development they’re referring to in terms of roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. He pointed out that since the previous Taiwanese logging company Jant left the area with most of their kwila trees, no one hospital or school was constructed as promised and the roads built were only leading into areas where the company can access to cut down their trees. These roads are the dustiest and men, women and children often take cover when the big logging trucks speed by. He went on to ask if RH can be trusted from the way it has began operations without consulting them.
The meeting, controlled by the Administrator went for one and a half hour, ending with the Administrator promising the Land Owners that he will to seek ‘technical advise’ before he gets back to them with answers. In the meantime he says, companies like RH can continue to log and the Land Owners shouldn’t be setting up road blocks because they will only cause inconveniences to the mothers and children who want to travel to town, hospitals and schools.
More than a hundred people living within the area identified for the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang are now homeless after their houses were burnt to the ground yesterday by police and members of a security company.
More than 50 houses were torched with the assistance of members of the Madang based Savolon Security company. The policemen arrived in three 10-seater Landcruisers and began physically and verbally assaulting the men, women and children.
“My two girls were scared and tried to run away but the police swore at them and forced them to go into the house and pack our things,” one women said.
Another elderly woman fell when police hurried her into the house to remove her possessions. Several people also said police and security company people initially tried to force them to burn their own houses but they refused. The eviction party also brought with them a front loader to demolish the houses. The driver had his face covered with a shirt to hide his identity.
Those who had their houses destroyed were brought in by the Filipino owned fish cannery, RD Tuna, several years ago to work on RD owned plantations. They were laid off without any repatriation plans or promise of work. Later, when RD Tuna sold 200 hectares of land to the government for the controversial PMIZ project, the people were ordered to leave the area.
Former workers and their families say they’ve been unfairly treated.
“RD didn’t make it clear to us that we were not needed anymore,” said one former worker. “We were told to stand by and wait.”
RD Tuna’s record is less than impressive. In 2010, the company refused to pay its workers the minimum wage set by the government. It was only after a strike that the labor department stepped in to order the company to pay the wages.
The people are now caught between a former employer that doesn’t want them, landowners who want them gone and a new government project that has no place for them. Earlier this year, government representatives paid each family between K200 and K1000 and told them to leave the PMIZ area. Many can’t go home because the cost of airfares and ship tickets exceed the amount of money they were given.
The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, has recently published an information sheet about its support for the development of Special Economic Zones in Papua New Guinea.
The information sheet concludes with remarks about the proposed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang.
“Is IFC involved with the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone? No” says the information sheet
Then, to make it quite clear, it reiterates “IFC has not been involved with any of the arrangements for the PMIZ.”
This is a far cry from the information the IFC was putting out in June 2009 when it confidently declared its SEZ strategy for PNG…
will also address the government’s plan to establish the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone promoting investment in onshore processing of regionally caught tuna. The project made an important step forward yesterday when the PMIZ project’s National Management Committee and Technical Working Group, along with IFC representatives and members of the private sector gathered in Madang to plan the administrative, technical, and financial strategy going forward.
It is also very different from information on the World Bank website about the IFC SEZ Country Strategy for PNG (which is being implemented at a cost of US$580,000). There it is stated the strategy will
in particular advise on the economic and legal conditions necessary for the eventual successful implementation of the proposed first SEZ, to be known as the Pacific Marine Industrial Park.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency said this about IFC and PMIZ in September:
PNG is working with the International Finance Corporation – a branch of the World Bank – to develop a ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) law. … Originally conceived for the PMIZ, the SEZ law has been broadened to be applicable across the country and for sectors beyond those related to fisheries products.
So, why is the IFC now trying to distance itself from the PMIZ project when obviosuly this was where its whole SEZ based relationship with the PNG government began only 18 months ago?
Is it because PMIZ is being built with public money through a loan from the Chinese government, which contradicts one of the IFC’s basic prerequisites – private financing – for a successful SEZ?
Is it because the IFC conducted a study that said the PMIZ should be built in Lae not Madang?
Or, is it because the World Bank can see the social and environmental catastrophes that the PMIZ will cause and is already trying to distance itself from the enevitable backlash?
Underlying all of this is the bigger question, if the IFC is so convinced SEZ’s are a good idea for PNG why is it NOT supporting PMIZ, which, after all, will be PNGs first SEZ?
Come on IFC, tell us why you are washing your hands of the PMIZ?
In a big blow to Papua New Guinea plans to estabish a marine park to process tuna from the Pacific region, Kiribati and Tuvula have announced plans to set up their own processing industries.
PNG had been hopping other Pacific Island nations would support its pland to establish up to 10 tuna processing factories in a new industrial zone to be built in Madang.
The PNG government is already in negotiations with China for a concessional loan to pay for the construction of the park known as the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.
However, the plan depends on other Pacific Island nations agreeing that tuna caught in their waters can be landed and processed in PNG. But Islands Business is reporting Kiribati and Tuvalu have started their own quest to run a tuna cartel to boost their own State coffers.
Particularly galling for PNG will be the fact that Kiribati has announced a joint venture to build its on tuna processing plant with a Chinese company.
PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare is sure to see this as something as a double cross by the Chinese who he was relying on to build and run PMIZ.