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Govt fiddles super debt - & its ageing servants die waiting


PORT MORESBY -  The Treasurer’s statement that the government will consider issuing a bond for K230 million to settle the amount it owes to Nambawan Super for public servants who have already retired is a step forward in resolving the long-standing problem for the retirees.

It is not an ideal situation but it is much better than nothing. These former public servants should have received their entitlements in full, including the government’s contribution, when they retired.

It is their legal entitlement. It is a disgrace that the government can give higher priority to expenditure such as APEC rather than paying public servants their legal entitlements.

However, I warn the Nambawan Super board to consider very carefully the future implications of accepting equity in state-owned enterprises as payment for the remainder of the K2 billion debt.

We all know that these SOEs are suffering from gross political interference, coupled with lack of working and investment capital.

The shares in the companies are not tradeable; they are highly illiquid. Most of them have virtually no value.

Shareholders – in this case the contributors to Nambawan Super - are unlikely to receive decent dividends on the investments. This will result in a cash flow shortage for Nambawan Super down the road, as more members retire.

It would be better for Nambawan Super to ask the government to convert all the money owed by the government into a term loan with Nambawan Super, with interest and principal repayments made annually through the budget as for any other loan.

If Nambawan Super was to consider any equity as payment in lieu, then the only shares they should consider are those of PNG LNG. At least contributors would have some assurance of dividend flows as well as the shares being tradeable and commanding a market value.

The fact remains that the government is bankrupt, and is raiding any possible avenue to meet recurrent costs.

When will the prime minister tackle the problem comprehensively and find a sustainable solution instead of drip-feeding the nation with isolated short-term doses?


On the receiving end – the long wait for …. nothing


ENGA – Let me tell you the story of a fellow public servant who came to Enga Province from Manus Province as a young man many years ago to work with the kiaps and who stayed on

He retired two years ago but is still waiting to get his pension entitlements before he goes back to Manus. He told me he wanted to build a home with his retirement benefits. But I am worried now.

Many other public servants have died while waiting to get their entitlements.

Nambawan Super wouldn't pay them because the government didn't pay the employer contributions which have accumulated to nearly K2.5 billion.

Now - with all the corruption, poor governance, APEC and natural disasters, -I wonder if my friend from Manus will ever build himself a home in his village to spend the rest of his days, satisfied that he had served his country to nationhood and content to sit in a rocking chair till he dozes off in a big sleep.

This is slow torture for him, isn't it?


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Ross Wilkinson

Heaven forbid, but one would hope that the politicians' super fund is fully funded and protected. Or are they taking it in advance in cash payments?

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