CHARLES LEPANI, PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, has claimed that half of the $450 million aid program to PNG is frittered away instead of delivering lasting benefits.
Delivering remarks that a daily newspaper termed “extraordinary”, Mr Lepani’s comments were echoed by the Opposition, which has called for an urgent investigation into apparent "systemic criminal behaviour" in foreign aid.
The Melbourne Herald Sun revealed yesterday that Australia's $4.5 billion foreign aid program was plagued by fraud with 175 cases being investigated, including 71 in PNG.
AusAID director-general Peter Baxter denied the scheme was riddled with fraud.
But Mr Lepani lashed out at spending on Australian-based contractors and consultants, which he said made up about half the $450 million spent each year in PNG.
"Fifty percent of that has not worked," he said.
"It has not built capacity in PNG and a lot of it has to do with Australian management companies getting a lot of money, but not delivering on what they are supposed to do, in terms of building capacity in Papua New Guinea."
He suggested the lack of lasting reform was a factor in the high level of foreign aid fraud in PNG.
Mr Lepani denied fraud was out of control in his homeland. "No, I wouldn't say that," he said.
Much of the problem lay with Australian companies, which were paid handsomely to manage projects, he said.
"Some who are hired - they don't even produce reports."
Source: ‘PNG lashes our foreign aid waste’ by Steve Lewis, Melbourne Herald-Sun, 25 March 2011