Will security forces foot cost of damages?

The Finance Minister is considering deducting the cost of Parliamentary damages from the Government’s payment commitment to the Joint Security Task Force.

Members of the Joint Security Task Force, who were involved in security operations during November’s APEC Summit, vandalised the Parliament on November 20th in frustration over outstanding allowances.

The initial payment arrangement by the JSTF commander was K200 per day for a period of 18 days. Members of the disciplinary forces however disagreed, saying an international summit warrants a much higher rate.

According to the JSTF commander and police commissioner, Gari Baki, certain individuals told the security personnel, comprising of Correctional Services, PNG Defence Force and Royal PNG Constabulary, that they will be paid K500 a day after the conclusion of the summit on November 18th.

Two days later, what could have been a peaceful farewell at the Rita Flynn courts turned into a tense, confrontational situation, where members of police and Correctional Services hurled verbal abuse, and even small objects, at those within the indoor complex.

Following the departure of Baki and Police Minister Jelta Wong at Rita Flynn, the security personnel convoyed to the Parliament and took out their frustrations on the House and any individual who they laid eyes on, including Parliament staff and members of the media.   

Over two months later, the police commissioner stressed that he had kept his end of the deal, pointing instead at the political leaders who had made the commitment when addressing the security personnel after the rampage.

Yesterday Finance Minister James Marape, while confirming the Government’s commitment to pay security forces the additional K300, contemplated deducting from the allowance to fix damages suffered by the Parliament.

“As of last week we were instructed to ensure that that money is made available so hopefully in the next two weeks we will be able to retire,” said Marape.

“But I’m looking at the cost of Parliament being deducted from the extra K300 allowances. And if the soldiers, and CS officials and police who were not involved in this, you can help in the process in identifying who was actually involved in the damage of parliament so we can hold them accountable.”

Carmella Gware