PNG government probe K1 billion project

THE Government will appoint an independent team to assess the pricing of two major road projects in the country costing more than K1 billion.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday directed Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc to appoint an independent team to assess the pricing of the two projects.
The contracts are for the K800 million super highway from Lae to Nadzab, in Morobe, and the K399 million road from Togoba to Kisenepoi in the highlands.
Opposition spokesman Tobias Kulang said excessive contract prices for the two projects alarming.
The Lae-Nadzab super highway contract was signed last Wednesday with China Railway International (CRI). The Togoba-Kisenopoi road project was signed with China Machinery Engineering
O’Neill’s direction followed a decision by the National Executive Council during its meeting on Wednesday.
“We are concerned about the pricing, and rightly so because these are public funds involved,” he said in a statement.
“We want an independent team to review the cost and design of the projects, given that the prices are quite high.
“In instituting this review, we are in no way trying to undermine the professionalism and efforts of our public servants. They have done a tremendous job.
“But it is in the public interest that we independently check and verify the pricing when concerns are raised publicly.”
O’Neill said other contracts would be brought under the scrutiny of this independent review team.
“The government is undertaking a lot of infrastructure work throughout the country, and it is important that prices are correctly quoted for these projects,” he said.
O’Neill said any review would not undermine the quality of work.
Kulang said on the face of it, these contracts appeared to be “very expensive”.
“One wonders if these contracts are based on some credible engineering scoping or costing,” he said.
“We trust this funding is part of the Chinese Exim bank loan. 
“If these are loan funds, then we should be spending them properly to derive maximum value,” he said. 
“There is no point in sinking excessive amounts of money in just 20km of road.”

The National/Pacific Flash

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