Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Asia Pacific Report

PNG: Leak reveals radio fund 'double dipping' prevented tsunami alert

Friday, March 18, 2011

Item: 7346

Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY: The warning of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last week in Papua New Guinea's New Ireland province could not be relayed to the outer islands because of the alleged abuse of K100 million by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), reports The National.

The NBC has kept this under wraps because K30,000 was used for other purposes by the senior management in Port Moresby, while the project has yet to get off the ground, the newspaper said.

A leaked document to The National stated that a K100,000 was given to NBC New Ireland for the extension of its tower to enable broadcast to reach New Hanover, Mussau islands, some parts of Tigak islands, outer lying areas and some parts of Tigak islands to the west cost of New Ireland.

“In light of the recent tsunami alert, the islanders would not have received that information because the SW TX, the transmitter, was off.”

Sources said that was the only reason why the provincial government gave the funding last December to ensure broadcast signals reached these islands.

The sources asked NBC management: “Why have been you been using these monies, which is for a specific project in New Ireland, for your travels to Australia, when the “Media for development initiative 2 project” would have facilitated these allowances?”

Sources said this was "double dipping" at the expense of the people, who have been under threat with climate change, earthquakes and tsunamis and needed urgent information.

“I would also like to highlight the fact that the  proposed trip which you, the management team and executive director engineering services, were to take to Kavieng, their travel and travelling allowance would have come out of the special project monies, amounting to about K8,000. Othe­r allowances have been drawn from the pro­ject monies for your use ranging between K1000 and K3800.

“If a disaster did happen on the islands and lives were lost, NBC will be equally blamed because monies allocated by the provincial government to assist NBC Kavieng to fix the pro­blem has been misused by those in charge.”

New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan anticipated work by NBC would have started in Ja­nuary and ended last month.

“The real reason is we just do not have that K100,000 around and NBC needs to put it back before the job is done.

“This is  bad that you see fit to use special project funds, to use whatever there is in ‘NBC bid basket’.”

The leaked documents stated that the practice of resorting to the trust accounts of the provincial stations must stop, as these are project funds earmarked for a purpose.

“The provincial stations use those accounts for such emergencies.” - The National/Pacific Media Watch

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