PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinean Ombudsman Commission has prevented the O’Neill government committing to a K10 billion kina office rental agreement for a proposed 32-storey complex in Waigani.
The million kina a year deal would compare with the government’s current annual office rental budget of K230 million.
And just one year of the lease would have been enough for the construction of a perfectly adequate building.
“This negotiation was being concluded at a time when government was in default over numerous rental payments,” said opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch (pictured).
The default has resulted in Treasury, Customs, the National Disaster Office and many other government agencies being locked out of their offices.
The sad story is effectively told in the title of a report by the Ombudsman Commission: ‘Investigation into alleged improper decision by the Government Office Allocation Committee to engage Central Land Ltd to build a 32-storey Government Office Complex at Waigani Central in the National Capital District’.
The report said negotiations started in September 2012 when the former public service minister Sir Puka Temu instructed a senior public servant John Kali to negotiate a pre-lease agreement with Naima Investments Ltd.
Mr Pruaitch said that, at the time Naima had not submitted a proposal to Dr Temu, and “the scale of likely financial losses was beyond comprehension.
“The annual lease payment would have been adequate for construction of the proposed 32-storey Government building, which would have been owned outright,” he said.
Mr Pruaitch said the report made findings of wrong and improper conduct against the Government Office Allocation Committee and accused Dr Temu and Mr Kali of wrong conduct, alleging that both leaders had breached the Public Finances (Management) Act.
The Ombudsman urged Dr Temu to inform the National Executive Council (Cabinet) that no agreement had been executed and urged the NEC revoke its earlier decision to finalise a leasing agreement.
Source: One PNG