ELECTRICITY supplies to Papua New Guinea’s parliament house, the national police headquarters, and government house have been disconnected for non-payment of bills.
PNG Power Ltd — the country’s monopoly, state-owned company responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution and retail of electricity — said these institutions owe it about $450,000.
The bills have not been paid since last November.
The institutions have been closed since they were disconnected on Tuesday, leaving them without lighting, air-conditioning and telecommunications.
The parliament building has its own standby generator — as do many private businesses in PNG, since PNG Power’s supply is often disrupted by blackouts.
But the acting clerk of the parliament, Kala Aufa, told the Post-Courier newspaper that the building lacked a store of fuel for its generator, and so he had to make such an order before this alternative source of power could be switched on.
Mr Aufa conceded that the parliament owed PPL $245,000, but said the payment of utilities had become centralised by the Finance Department, which took over that responsibility for all state agencies at the start of the year.
“We just get the bills and give it to them,” he said.
He expressed concern that the parliament might also find its telecommunications and water services discontinued, if those bills were not settled.
Opposition Leader Don Polye blamed the government’s “incapacity to handle simple funding and administrative matters”.
He said the country was suffering a cash flow problem as a result of a mismanagement of funds that was affecting the entire public system.
He warned that salaries would also be affected.
Australian economist Paul Flanagan recently warned that “PNG’s international economic situation is much more frail than the picture presented by the Peter O’Neill government’.
“The International Monetary Fund calls the foreign reserves position ‘weak’. It has less than one -third the recommended level in its international bank account,” Flanagan wrote.