Lae based Hela businessman Michael Pai appeared to have gone into damage control mode after he was accused of being a "liar" on social media for initially denying to members of Lae mainstream media that he received K2 million kina in public funds.
Mr Pai, a former candidate who ran as an Independent against 30 other candidates in the 2012 National Election for the Lae Open seat (exclusion 18), reportedly "showed up" at the EM TV office in Lae on December 19th, reportedly "confirming receiving the money however he denied its connection with DSIP" and reportedly revealed that in 2009 he 'submitted a proposal for funding to fund landowner companies' and that 'the payment was approved in 2010 by the expenditure implementation committee'.
EM TV incorrectly reported on its website: "Mr Pai was accused by member for Bulolo, Sam Basil, for co-operating with Finance Minister, James Marape in diverting funds from the DSIP."
Next it was Finance Minister, James Marape's turn. Minister Marape, who had previously denied (via Governor Powes Parkop) that Michael Pai is his relative, reportedly told EM TV news on Boxing Day, December 26th: 'Mr Basil should not mislead the Bulolo people as the money is for outstanding MOA payments to landowner companies in the LNG Project areas'.
EM TV also incorrectly reported:
"Finance & Education Minister James Marape responded to claims made by Bulolo member Sam Basil of diverting his DSIP funds to a landowner company from the Hides Petroleum Development Licence 1 area."
The unidentified EM TV reporter also stated on the EM TV news website:
"Mr. Marape denied any personal connection with the company."
"Mr. Marape is inviting Mr. Basil for a roundtable discussion to solve this matter in an appropriate way."
It must be clearly spelt out that the Deputy Opposition Leader, Hon. Sam Basil never at any time claimed that DSIP funds had been diverted to Michael Pai and or his company Power Boss PNG Ltd by Finance Minister James Marape.
After viewing EM TV news, at the time the Deputy Opposition Leader said: "I never knew that Marape will stoop so low and be so stupid like on today's EM TV news."
"I never said he paid my DSIP to his Hela wantok Mr. Michael Pai."
"I made mention that the payment of K2 m part of the K31 m that they have collaborated to pay Mr. Michael Pai took precedence over my district DSIP payment."
"Actually this particular payment warrants immediate investigation because there are people in Lae willing to file affidavits stating that the Honorable Minister when in Lae spends time with Michael Pai driving around and spending time together into late nights."
Michael Pai, seemingly in anticipation of receiving 31 million Kina in public funds entered into a signed agreement, in March 2010, with Emmanuel Balamus (reportedly a former Air Nuigini freight manager from East Sepik) regarding the disbursement of the K31 m. This agreement was backed up by a statutory declaration signed and stamped by a Commissioner of Oaths; wherein Michael Pai agreed to give 16.13% as commission to Emmanuel Balamus and to keep 83.87% purportedly for the purpose of 'seed capital funding'. (See copy attached)
All public funds bequeathed to any company or business in the form of a government grant (free money from the State/taxpayers) must be strictly accounted for and if suspected of being misobtained or misapplied in any way are subject to full scrutiny, investigation and possible charges being made under the criminal code against the recipients and or beneficiaries.
Has the K31 million been paid out in full yet? If so where is the acquital of monies expended?
The issue of Minister Marape withholding the District Service Improvement Program funds from Opposition members electorates is a separate matter which has been ongoing for more than a year now. Minister Marape's recent call for "a roundtable discussion to solve this matter in an appropriate way" has gone way beyond a joke; especially considering that in February this year, the Leader of the Opposition & Vanimo-Green MP, Hon. Belden Norman Namah, accompanied by Deputy Opposition Leader & Bulolo Open MP, Hon. Sam Basil - pursuant to Section 18 (1) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership - personally lodged two complaints of suspected misconduct in office against persons subject to the leadership code.
One of those persons was the Minister for Finance, James Marape who the Opposition "accused of committing serious misconduct in office for holding onto DSIP and PSIP cheques and holding Members of Parliament at ransom and inducing them to support the government vote in favor of the constitutional amendment to extend the grace period in the last sitting of parliament or else their electorates would not be paid their funds".
James Marape is believed to have breached National Goal No 2 of the Constitution, Section 55 (1) of the Constitution, the Discriminatory Practices Act 1963 and contravened the Public Finances Management Act.
The Opposition warned Minister Marape, at the time, that if he fails to release the funds criminal proceedings will be instituted against him personally.
"We want to end debate on this matter by warning the Minister, that if he fails to release our Electorate's cheques by the end of this week, we will institute criminal proceedings against him personally under the Discrimination and Unfair Practices Act," the Opposition advised.
At the time, Minister Marape reportedly used the excuse - for the delay in releasing DSIP funds to Opposition members - that there was 'a cash flow problem'. Needless to state, James Marape has had all year to find the money and release the DSIP funds in full in particular to Vanimo-Green, Bulolo, Rabaul and Huon Gulf.
"I believe it will be a court battle now", the Deputy Opposition Leader, Hon. Sam Basil also publicly stated recently.
The majority of people from the affected DSIP deprived districts will surely agree that the time for making excuses and or sitting at a "roundtable discussion" is long gone and it is time for legal action to be taken against James Marape.