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Budget woes: Unrest as salaries go unpaid

Indonesian military guard PNG border at Wutung (Johnny Blades)
There are reports that a pay protest by soldiers and police left a border post unmanned last week. An earlier photo of Indonesian military guards at the PNG border at Wutung (Johnny Blades)


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s budget problems are affecting some of the country’s most critical institutions – including parliament, the defence force and police.

Finance Minister Rainbo Paita said PNG is facing worsening cash flow issues because of Covid-19’s impact on the economy.

Gulf Province Governor Chris Haiveta said the late payment of salaries to current and former members of parliament and their staff had begun last year.

“The pay has been late for 10 days now. It is an ongoing issue,” he said. “We are broke.”

Paita said the demand for cash from every government agency was “enormous”. But he said things were looking up. The salaries were finally paid late last week.

Meanwhile, soldiers and police deployed to PNG’s border with Indonesia have protested over unpaid allowances.

A border post in West Sepik Province was left unmanned last Wednesday as police and soldiers protested the situation.

Defence force chief, Major General Gilbert Toropo, denied troops abandoned the border post and said only off-duty personnel joined the protest.

An investigation had been launched and those involved would be punished, Toropo said.

Police Commissioner David Manning acknowledged that risk allowances for security personnel had yet to be paid.

"We are still progressing payments, but they will be paid their allowances," Manning said.

Earlier last month, Eastern Highlands police staged a similar protest in Goroka.

Sources: Radio New Zealand & PNG Facts


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Stephanie Alois

It is saddening that Papua New Guinea's budget problems are affecting the parliament, defence force and police and leaving them broke.

But their perseverance illustrates their love for this country and we the citizens are grateful for your tireless efforts, especially during the pandemic.

I am curious about the Eastern Highlands police protest in Goroka though.

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