Governor Calls For Probe Into Terminated PNG Rice Project
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 13, 2012) – Oro Governor Gary Juffa has commended Papua New Guinea’s Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll forterminating the US$2 billion Naima Rice project proposed for Kairiku-Hiri District of Central Province.
Mr. Juffa has also called for the Agriculture Minister to direct investigations into the alleged allocation of more then K5 million [US$2.4 million] by the National Government to "revamp and regurgitate" the National Executive Council (NEC) submission which was rejected on more than three occasions by the NEC.
"How come K5 million of public funds was allocated through the DAL and the National Project Steering Committee for this company to re-submit this project proposal to the National Government again? Who benefitted from this outrageous and heinous misuse of public funds?"
"Those responsible should be sacked including Ministers and public servants. Is this how we are going to mismanage the proceeds of our so called economic boom?" Mr. Juffa demanded.
"When an ordinary Papua New Guinean steals a can of corn beef worth K10 [US$4.77] he is dragged before the Police Station and beaten and jailed and prosecuted and eventually even jailed or fined for this crime but many in positions of power are stealing and misusing literally millions and getting away with it.
"I demand that the Agriculture Minister order an investigation and lay a complaint with the fraud squad for those responsible to be prosecuted.
"Why is the Papua New Guinean taxpayer having to fork out money to fund a foreign project that seeks to marginalize our opportunities and prevent us from ever being involved in the growing or sale or distribution of rice? This is absurd. How did this money get allocated and who collected the payments and who disbursed them and under what arrangements? Who benefitted? Seven million Papua New Guineans have a right to know," demanded Mr. Juffa who was prepared to take the matter to take out court orders to stop the project should it have gone through the NEC.
Mr. Juffa stated that the project was rejected by the ICCC and the NRI as being unfair to the interests of PNG and yet certain leaders were promoting it and now public funds had been paid to smooth the way for the project. "The NEC must stop processing all manner of dubious project proposals that are merely scams to obtain money and that will only harm our economy and our people," Juffa said.
"I commend Minister Tomscoll who has stood up for his country and his people. This is what we leaders are supposed to do, support our people and protect their interests, current and future.’’
The Naima Rice project is believed to be the investment proposal of Indonesian fugitive Joko Tjandra.
Mr. Juffa has been a vocal and outspoken critic of the Rice Project which sought to be granted a 20-year monopoly on the commercialization of rice in PNG, barring all other entities including Papua New Guineans from ever growing or selling or distributing rice in PNG.
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