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Papua New Guinea

Bird hints conflict of interest for new Air Niugini chairman

BY FRANKLIN KOLMA
fkolma@spp.com.pg

During Question Time, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird asked a supplementary question to do with PNG’s flag carrier hinting on the idea that coincidentally, BSP could be the government’s lifeline for its struggling national airline.

Mr Bird asked if the appointment of the chairman of the rapidly expanding bank indicated expectations of Air Niugini possibly borrowing from the bank, gleaning that there was the high possibility of a conflict of interest on the chairman’s part.

The East Sepik Governor concluded his line of questions by mentioning that the PNG government had the highest debt yet to be paid to Air Niugini asking when these debts would be alleviated.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill responded by first informing parliament that K60m had been paid to the airline last week to ease its financial strain.

He further stated that it was an informed decision to appointment Mr Constantinou based on his track record in business.

“Our airline is in a bad way and if we did not bring in experienced people who are able to make the tough choices, we may not have an airline within the next two year,” said the PM.

Mr O’Neill said that BSP was in fact a financier of Air Niugini already and that it was certainly the government’s position to ensure that the two entities work together during these harsh economic times.

The questioning was not so straight forward however and was probably the most dramatic of the day, due to the Finance Ministers interjection while Governor Bird was asking his questions which were seemingly speculative at first.

The Governor had only begun into his question when he was called to a Point of Order by Finance Minister James Marape.

Minister Marape asked the speaker to remind all present that Parliamentary Standing Orders prohibited the use of questions based on speculation or inferences adding that these types of questions were opinionated and should be left for Grievances Debates.

“Mr Speaker, Members need to be reminded that Section 141 of Parliamentary Standing Orders explicitly prohibits members from making inferences and hypothetical questions on the floor of parliament,” said the Minister.

After considering the Point of Order, the Acting Speaker and Member for Menyamya Thomas Pelika ruled Governor Bird’s questions “Out of Order” asking him to either rephrase or take his seat.

It was only after this that Governor Bird asked forwardly and got his afore mentioned answers from the PM.

us!