Australia’s attempts to stop Papua New Guinea from awarding a contract to a firm it does not trust in the distribution of the medicines to the health centres has taken a new twist. It has now been reported by media in Australia that Australia has withdrawn funding for a $38 million (about K92.7m) program that supplies medicine to PNG health centres, due to concerns about the way PNG has awarded contracts. Previously, Australia’s aid agency chose the supplier and distributor for the medicines, but this year that process was handled by PNG – PNG Post-Courier, 30 December
PAPUA NEW GUINEA Health Minister Michael Malabag and Health Secretary Pascoe Kase have responded in the PNG media saying that they were unaware that Australia had ceased to fund the country’s pharmaceutical purchase and distribution scheme.
In fact, they claimed that this was a PNG government-funded scheme and therefore didn’t involve Australia at all.
Well, that answers that, doesn’t it? There isn’t a problem at all is there? Never was!
Minister Malabag claimed three bidders went through the Health Department’s tender process before recommendations were made to the National Executive Council and two bidders were disqualified as not registered in PNG. So what is all the fuss about?
What we don’t know is whether the information provided to the NEC was the same information provided to the Australian aid agency.
It seems like a just little ol’ difference of opinion doesn’t it? That is until you read the report by local PNG medical authorities who have substantiated the Australian aid agency’s original claim.
So has the NEC been misadvised? Has Minister Malabag been telling the truth?
Unanswered questions. But what we do know is that Australia has washed its hands of the mess.
Some people feel this action was justified – others believe it is abdication.