23 Jan 2004

PNG schools facing money woes after a freeze on distribution of government subsidies

5:22 pm on 23 January 2004

Schools in Papua New Guinea face money woes after the announcement of a freeze on the distribution of government subsidies.

The Education Secretary, Peter Baki, halted all officers who normally travel out to the provinces to deliver the first quarter subsidies - totalling 5 million US dollars.

The announcement comes after parliament heard allegations of officers misusing the money as they travelled to schools.

Mr Baki says only schools with valid bank accounts will be given their subsidies, despite the fact that only 8 percent of PNG's 6,600 schools have accounts.

However Mr Baki says he must protect his officers.

"I have taken this stand because the criticisms levelled at officers are not fair. So I want to make sure that we justify to higher authorities that the practice of distributing funds to schools is a genuine attempt to ensure that the students actually do receive the money."

Mr Baki says he is not aware of officers currently misspending.