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By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby

Finance Minister Sir John Pundari has warned Papua New Guineans who are still holding onto the 102 APEC “on loan” vehicles to return them as soon as possible — or face the law.

A disappointed Sir John, flanked by Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan and Police Commissioner David Manning, said on Friday the ultimatum notice that had been published in newspapers recalling a total of 102 APEC vehicles in the hands of unauthorised people had now lapsed.

Those involved would face the full force of the law.

“The seven-day ultimatum period lapsed on Thursday, September 16, and to date no person has surrendered the APEC vehicles,” he said.

“The Finance Department has requested engagement of police, RTA and MVIL to establish a collective task force to recoup all outstanding APEC vehicles.”

The designated officers from Finance Department, Motor Police – Boroko, NCD Traffic Police, RTA – Road Traffic Enforcement Teams and MVIL are all ready to execute the recovery of the missing APEC vehicles.

The recovery task force team would start executing the recovery soon after the Friday’s meeting.

Taking stock of assets
“Consistent with the requirements of the PFMA and the NPA, all APEC assets including liabilities were assumed by Department of Finance.

The Department of Finance had already taken stock of the assets and was progressively preparing to dispose all of them through public tender.

The disposal of state assets was a financial management process under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the National Procurement Act (NPA).

It is by law that the Department of Finance was now the legitimate custodian of all APEC assets including the vehicles.

He said there are two phases in this disposal exercise – disposal of all 166 donated APEC vehicles, which was completed in June.

“Our donor partners agreed that donated fleets be allocated to schools, hospitals, churches/NGOs, government departments and other important charitable institutions.

“As far as our record is concerned, we have disposed 166 donated vehicles.

Fire trucks, ambulances and buses
“Donated vehicles were collectively fire trucks, ambulances and buses,” he said.

The disposal of 326 state-purchased APEC vehicles and a total of 119 low-end state-purchased APEC vehicles have already been allocated and distributed to various government departments (Public and Statutory Bodies, District and Provincial Governments, and SOEs) used for their administrative purposes.

“Finance Department is in the process of disposing the remaining.

“Some of these fleets are now with agencies and individuals and they have been advised to bring back for disposal.

“For instance, more than 15 vehicles are now utilised on covid-19 operations by Health, Police, and Defence on temporary basis, and about 98 vehicles are in the hands of unauthorised individuals,” he said.

The NEC, in Decision #5112021, has directed the Finance Department to immediately dispose all remaining stocks of APEC vehicles and put to rest the APEC issues.

APEC vehicles recovered and other remaining stocks of APEC vehicles will be prepared for BoS review and evaluation by the Department of Works. The NPC Board will then assess and approve on the BoS evaluation from Works Department.

Public tender
The NPC Board will further approve on the public tender for all remaining stocks of State purchased APEC vehicles.

All remaining stocks of APEC vehicles will be disposed by way of public tender though National Procurement Commission.

As a team and government stakeholders, we look forward to serving the government and its people while following the established government procurement processes.

“The government is committed to ensure that it employs a fair and transparent distribution of wealth for our citizens to benefit in this APEC vehicles disposal processes,” Sir John said.

Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest countries in Apec, with 40 percent of the population living on less than $1 a day, according to the United Nations.

Gorethy Kenneth is a senior PNG Post-Courier journalist.

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