Friday, September 16, 2011

Kandep wheat project to be probed

Source: the Post Courier, Wednesday June 22, 2011.

A K4.1 million given for a wheat project in Don Polye’s Kandep electorate which “evaporated somewhere” will be “thoroughly investigated” along
with other complaints on agriculture funds expended with little or no evidence of projects on the ground.
That was the commitment from Agriculture Minister Ano Pala in Parliament yesterday when responding to a question from Enga Governor Peter Ipatas regarding the funding of the wheat project.

The K4.1 million was allocated to the district during the 2009 cabinet meeting in Wabag, despite protests from Mr Ipatas. He asked Mr Pala if he
could send his officers to Kandep to investigate the use of the funds as it was allocated under the agriculture sector program funds.
“Despite some protests from myself as Governor of Enga during the NEC meeting in Wabag, various sectoral cheques were handed to districts.
“Among those distributed, one was a K4.1 million cheque for a wheat project in Kandep,” Mr Ipatas said.

He said the wheat project was an initiative of the former Kandep MP Jimson Sauk, which was later taken over by the Provincial Government and the
Chinese Government through a bilateral aid arrangement.
But Mr Ipatas said he opposed the direct allocation of K4.1 million to the district at the time due to lack of capacity and proper planning.
“Now, this is 2011, that money that was given to the district seems to have evaporated somewhere,” the Governor said.
“Minister, because the cheque was released out of your agricultural sector fund, I wish to ask you to institute an investigating team to Kandep
and establish where the funds are and if there is a wheat program that is ongoing in Kandep in Enga Province,” he asked Mr Pala.

In response, Mr Pala said it was his first question since he was appointed as Minister for Agriculture which brought some laughter among MPs and
ministers … “this is an interesting questing because I am not aware of the subject matter that is being raised in this question”.
“But this is very important because it highlights expenditure of public funds which all constitutional authorities should be answerable for and
if this kind of funds is being spent and there is no evidence of its existence, then the public ought to know. This government is concerned about it, everybody talks about corruption, abuse and failure of government systems to account for public funds.

“I think the problem exists all over the country, funds have been allocated, funds have been spent, and in many cases, there is no evidence or
little evidence of activities on the ground and I want to assure the Parliament and the public that this matter will be thoroughly investigated.
“This is an example of our commitment to ensure that where public funds have been spent and my ministry is made aware of it, we will investigate.

“This is the first time I heard of this and I will refer it to my department to do a thorough investigation into the whereabouts of this fund
and to see if it has been spent and where the project is,” Mr Pala said.

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