Sir Michael Somare should pay his own medical bills: Mekere Morauta

Sir Michael Somare should pay his own medical bills: Sir Mekere

 

The Member for Moresby North-West and Minister for Public Enterprises Rt Hon Sir
Mekere Morauta said today that he was personally shocked to learn that the
Government had been paying Sir Michael Somare‟s medical expenses and the cost of
keeping his entourage in Singapore.

Sir Mekere said that the report in The National on 05 September that the State has
paid more than K3.7 million, K2.7 million of which was for “minders and visitors”, is
simply outrageous.

“I am not being mean or discourteous. I wish The Chief a speedy recovery. I am
delighted that he appears to be well enough to have come home,” Sir Mekere said.

“But private medical expenses are private medical expenses. All Members of
Parliament have access to medical insurance, and none of us should expect the State to
pay our private bills.”

Sir Mekere said that this was a typical example of the way the Somare family had
abused public money. “They seem to have no sense of the differentiation between
public and private. When Bart Philemon and I were in the Opposition, we frequently
pointed this out, criticising the aerial PMV Falcon jet, for example, and the manner in
which the Somare family abused the privileges of Mirigini House and the office of the
Prime Minister.”

“In a statement to the Parliament on 18 May 2010, I challenged then Prime Minister
Somare „to appoint an independent auditor to compute what it cost the nation as PM
and what he has cost the nation. But I can make a pretty good guess: what the nation
spent on my behalf in 3 years would be less than 3 months expenditure on the current
PM‟.”

“I made that statement without realising the full extent of the abuse of public
resources by the Somare family. When I became the Minister for Public Enterprises,I discovered that the Somare Government owed Air Niugini K30 million for the operation of the aerial PMV.The Falcon had clearly been going up and down to Singapore, to Fiji for golf, to Wewak for parties,wherever the family wanted it to go –but they never paid the bill. So when Air Niugini agreed to buy the Falcon from theGovernment, this unpaid bill of K30 million had to be deducted from the purchase price.”

Sir Mekere said that the fact was many months ago Sir Michael took leave, appointed
an Acting Prime Minister, and went to Singapore for medical treatment.

“He did not fall sick whilst on duty travel. He gave up the position of Prime Minister
but still took a whole entourage with him – family members, Protocol officers, Police
officers – for him to lie in a hospital bed. And it was presumed the people of Papua
New Guinea would foot the bill. Meantime his chosen appointee Hon Sam Abal ran
up a bill of hundreds of thousands of kina staying in a Port Moresby hotel instead of
his own home. Who paid for this, I wonder?”

Sir Mekere said that when he was the Prime Minister, he regularly went to Brisbane
for medical check-ups. “Not once did the State pay for my ticket, for my wife‟s
ticket, for my medical bills, nor for my accommodation. They were private visits for
personal reasons. It is common sense that a Prime Minister should expect to pay for
such trips and for his own medical treatment himself.”

Sir Mekere said that the report in The National noted that the Prime Minister‟s
Department did „not have any allowances within its budget for the medical expenses
of the Prime Minister‟. “So who approved this expenditure?” Sir Mekere asked.
“That is a breach of the Financial Management Act and whoever approved the
expenditure should be held accountable.”

Sir Mekere said that the Somare family should re-pay the State all the medical
expenses and costs associated with their recent stay in Singapore.

“It is an insult to Papua New Guineans that government money has been used to pay
these costs. Our own health services are so run down; they are not staffed properly;
people are dying daily for want of drugs, of equipment that works, and of accurate
diagnosis. Every day we hear of a Papua New Guinean family fund-raising to send a
family member overseas for medical treatment that is not available here. These
people don‟t have a government department that forks out millions for them.”

“Please Sir Michael, have some decency and assure the nation that you will pay for
your own medical expenses,” Sir Mekere said. “Having a clear conscience in this
regard will give you peace of mind and help your recovery.”

Mekere Morauta KCMG MP
Member for Moresby North-West and
Minister for Public Enterprises

 

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