Accountability key for Defence in 2019: Secretary Meauri

Accountability will be the focus for the Defence Organisation as it gears up to implement its key priorities in 2019.

Acting Secretary Trevor Meauri stressed accountability as the hallmark for the Organisation in the new year when addressing senior Department and Force officials at their Budget Retreat recently.

The Budget Retreat is an annual event held to review the budget performance for the year that is ending, and plan for the new year.

Speaking during the meeting, Mr Meauri said one of the major problems at Defence, and indeed most government organizations, was lack of accountability.

“Whether it’s performing a small task or pursuing a big project, accountability is key.

“Our lack of accountability over the years has resulted in failure to deliver some of our major projects. We encounter serious budget crunch in the middle of each fiscal year because we are not accountable enough,” he said.

He said several reforms undertaken at the Department in the last two years will help drive accountability and transparency in finance and administration at Defence.

The reforms include introduction of the IFMS system in the Department’s finances, setting up of a project steering committee for oversight of all projects, and establishing the Project and Contract Management Cell with the help of Australian Defence Force.

Reflecting on the 2018 budget, Mr Meauri said it was a tough year because of APEC and three natural disasters that the Defence Force was relied upon to be in the frontline providing help to people affected.

“APEC and the disasters in Kadovar (Volcano eruption), Hela/SHP (Earthquake) and Manam (Eruption), exerted great strain on the Defence Budget.

“The late disbursement of monthly allocations for Defence operations compounded our problems.

“But we coped by making the 2018 Budget more flexible. We adjusted and made cuts in other areas to ensure these key Defence operations were not disrupted. In terms of managing these unforeseen defence requirements, it was a success,” he said.

Mr Meauri said funding challenges were expected to continue in 2019. But with the focus on accountability, they should achieve their goals in 2019.

“We have to be accountable to Parliament. We have to be accountable to the government. We have to be accountable to the systems and processes within the Defence Organisation,” he told the senior officers.

“We have to be accountable to our soldiers who are out there on border patrol, or on emergency duties. And most importantly, we need to be accountable to the people of Papua New Guinea. We need to regain their trust and confidence in us,” he said.

He said a lot of infrastructure development will be undertaken by Defence in 2019.

This include renovations to housing, single quarters and messing facilities in barracks around the country.

He urged the senior officers to focus on delivering these projects on time and within the financial resources provided by the government.

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