By Staff Reporter : PNG Today
The Foreign Minister, . Rimbink Pato, said delays in the processing of payments have caused inconvenience and have been most unfortunate, but progress is being made to prevent a reoccurrence in the future.
“The decision to directly fund foreign missions from Treasury has faced delays in initial implementation but will have long term benefits when problems are resolved,” Minister Pato said.
"The Prime Minister and I met with heads of our diplomatic corps in Port Moresby in February last year. We heard their concerns and the Prime Minister proposed that Treasury would remit funds direct to Foreign Missions so that bottlenecks could be removed.
"While this was agreed and payments for overseas missions are being facilitated by Treasury, there are delays in internal Treasury processes that have seen full remittances.
“Unfortunately, there has also been serious complications through the change in the IFMS public accounts arrangements for the overseas missions.
"When the IFMS was introduced, no appropriation was made by Treasury for salaries for around 90 Locally Engaged Staff at the missions.
“Overseas Living Allowances for PNG based staff were then incorrectly committed to the salaries vote and is not available for transfer each quarter as it had been in the past.
“These two factors alone have created a shortfall in allocations to missions.
“As a consequence, the funds allocated to Missions each quarter have been used to cover all operational requirements of the missions including salaries of LES and OLA for our diplomats.
“Concerns relating to diplomatic rental requirements in Singapore and UN commitments in New York have now been resolved.
“To ease the situation, funds are being transmitted as soon as they are made available from Treasury.”
The Minister said as part of ongoing reform and development, since the drop in global commodity prices, overseas missions have also been required to undertake cost saving measures to ensure that operations are leaner and better focused on core diplomatic activities.