Papua New Guinea
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SHP community leaders agree to put aside political differences

Community leaders in the Southern Highlands have agreed to put away their political difference and work together for the common good of Mendi Town and the Southern Highlands Province.

Among the leaders is local Mendi town leader and anti-corruption advocate Alex Awesa who has supported the call by Southern Highlands Governor William Powi to leave politics aside and work with him to fix Mendi Town.

Awesa said with the outcome of the Supreme Court Decision, Governor Powi remains as Governor and it was important that everyone leave politics aside now, and politics can be played at its own time.

He said it is important Mendi, the Provincial headquarter is fixed to allow much needed services to be provided to the people of Southern Highlands with all functions transferred back to the province.

He said the financial and procurement services needs to be strengthened and made more transparent so that corruption and claim culture is minimised.

Awesa said the Provincial Treasury must be relocated back to the Agiru Centre in Mendi and the functions of the Provincial Administration also need to be relocated back to Mendi instead of operating in Port Moresby.

He said other immediate action the Governor has to take includes appointing qualified people on the SHP procurement board so that tenders for construction projects are done transparently, and eliminate 100 percent upfront payments, introduce an audit cell at the SHP Treasury so that all payments and expenditures are scrutinised before drawing down cheques from SHP operating accounts and eliminate claim culture.

He said the Kembiri urban villages also need to be recognised as the traditional landowners of Mendi.

Governor Powi said he will go back and provide leadership and deliver services to the people now that he is cleared.

He said he has already directed the Provincial Administration to go back and operate at the Agiru Centre and also relocate Treasury functions back to Mendi as well.

He said all services will be delivered through greater partnership with the DDAs, the 20 LLGs and other stalk holders.

He therefore call on all leaders to partner him for the good of the province.

Community leaders from Ialibu Pangia Siro Yoko, Pale Ward Councillor Ole Yoko and Ialibu Basin President Jacob Philip have all appealed to the people of Mendi to take ownership and rally behind Powi to restore Mendi town.

They said they fear going to Mendi but its time now that the court had cleared Powi.