A PAPUA New Guinea Treasury source has revealed that the O'Neill-Dion government has ordered a payment of K3 million to each government member of parliament at the so-called ‘Alotau retreat’.
The funding will be provided under the district services improvement program.
The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the Finance Department has been instructed to make payment this week ahead of tomorrow’s vote of no confidence in prime minister Peter O’Neill.
Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan confirmed that the instrument to facilitate payments has been signed and funds are expected to be released tomorrow.
The news of this planned payment went viral on Facebook as PNG awaits the outcome of the vote expected to be held at 10:30 tomorrow morning.
Critics were quick to label this payout an attempt to buy the votes of MPs to remain in or join the O’Neill camp and vote for the prime minister today.
Meanwhile, O'Neill said the cost flying MPs to Alotau for what he has called a ‘retreat’ was funded by his People's National Congress Party and not from government coffers as claimed by the opposition.
In May, vice-minister for Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs Joe Sungi said members of parliament were “not interested on who will become the prime minister but all were concerned about the DSIP funds."
Sungi said any potential prime minister who wanted to change this arrangement will not be voted into office.
"You have seen so many attempts in parliament to change the prime minister but have not been successful because we are tied with the DSIP/PSIP funds," Sungi said.
"That's why we will support the O'Neill-Dion government. So long as you have the money, you will master the numbers."
There is already a perception that the K3 million payout to the MPs in the Alotau ‘camp’ is to secure them in the government team which will vote for O'Neill to remain as prime minister.
The government also regards this vote of no-confidence as having great impact in preparing for next year's general election.