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$63m untapped

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Former PM Danny Philip secured a K$20 millon in bilateral aid with PNG since 2011.
‘Why Gov’t do not request this money to resolve teachers’ plights is questionable’

Former Government advisor Alfred Sasako has described as rubbish claims the Government does not have the money to pay teachers.
 

“Nothing can be further from the truth. The Government has at its disposal or at least access to K20 million a year (about SBD63 million a year) which the Danny Philip Government had secured in bilateral aid with Papua New Guinea since 2011,” Mr Sasako who was responsible for preparing the letter on the matter, said in a statement in Brisbane.

He said the aid arrangement was contained in an MOU signed in Port Moresby on October 4, 2011.

“In the letter which I had drafted for then Prime Minister Philip to his PNG counterpart, we requested two things: the immediate restoration of PNG scholarship scheme for Solomon Islands students studying in PNG tertiary institutions and an increase to K20 million a year in PNG’s budgetary assistance to Solomon Islands.

“As someone who was responsible for helping in the process, I am proud to say that the PNG Government accepted both propositions. I am prepared to disclose the letter and other documents to support my claim,” he said.

Mr Sasako said the fact of the matter remains that the new administration simply did not know how to go about accessing the money.

“That’s about K40 million sitting in Port Moresby, which we have not done anything to access it.

“The appointment of our new High Commissioner to PNG last year did not help matters because some Papua New Guineans have issues with the appointee. In diplomacy every single step matters,” the former politician said.

He said it appears from documents he was privy to, the Government wants the K20 million due in 2012 in cash.

“I believe a request to this end was made to the PNG Government last December but Port Moresby had declined the request, citing the projects itemised in the request were outside the spirit and letter of the MOU.

“Improving teachers’ lot would fit the bill perfectly because the whole bilateral aid arrangement was centred around education.

“I believe Port Moresby would be sympathetic to a request if a project proposal to improve teachers’ terms and conditions were provided.

“My appeal is to the authorities to be truthful about this so that the looming teachers’ strike can be averted. There is more than enough money to cover the teachers’ demand, unless the government has had something else in mind to spend the money on,” Mr Sasako said.