Iconic Buildings Face Closure
Papua New Guinea’s iconic buildings – the APEC Haus and the International Convention Centre (ICC) – face possible closure if the repairs to the fire indicator panel, costing K8294 are not carried out.
The payment and management of the two buildings have had confusion and interference resulting in the delay in repair work and payment of the bills. The management of APEC Haus and the International Convention Centre has been placed under the new National Events Secretariat which Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari is chairman.
But according to reports, APEC chief executive officer Christopher Hawkins is still in that position as per the APEC Act which will end 12 months after the date of hosting APEC. This has caused confusion in the leadership and management of these and other engagements. According to reports, Mr Hawkins was officially appointed as the National Events executive director on 28th March, 2019, and will be in charge of these operations.
But Mr Lupari in a letter to the Secretary for Finance on September 23, said Mr Hawkins was no longer allowed nor had no legal status to deal with APEC-related matters, including the up keeping of the facilities such as the ICC and APEC Haus.
This is because a claim of K117, 706 was submitted as outstanding bills for the maintenance work done at the international convention centre and the APEC Haus, Mr Lupari said. “As you are aware, Mr Christopher Hawkins has no legal status to deal with APEC related matters including the up keeping of the facilities such as ICC and APEC Haus therefore the claims are now referred to the Department of Finance auditors to verify and provide advice on the matter,” Mr Lupari said.
But Mr Hawkins, when contacted, said he was still the APEC CEO until the end of this year, allowing for the transition and that he was also the National Events executive director, despite Mr Lupari saying that his contract was already terminated. Mr Hawkins had written to Prime Minister James Marape claiming that the delay and interference has placed the operations and the buildings at risk.
“This interference is further compounded with the Chief Secretary countermanding the decision of the National Executive Council to place management of APEC Haus and the International Convention Centre under the new National Events Secretariat, and my authority in this transitional period. “This decision was Gazetted by the Governor-General on 28 March 2019 and was recognised in correspondence from the Chief Secretary to me on 20 May 2019,” Hawkins said.
Reports obtained by the Post-Courier say, throughout the course of 2019, a series of 55 events have been held at APEC Haus and 65 at ICC.
This has generated K580,235 for building upkeep that has been deposited into a bank account under the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council, and K385,280 has been billed for current and future events. Mr Hawkins said: “None of these funds have been released by the Chief Secretary to pay for building maintenance, security, support staff and other building costs despite several requests as debts to suppliers rise and building faults increase.
“This ongoing blockage is placing at risk upcoming events at APEC Haus as repairs to the fire indicator panel, costing K8,294, have not been carried out and it is possible that the building is no longer compliant with fire safety regulations.
“Further, the nonpayment of security suppliers means that soon both APEC Haus and the ICC will not be protected. It must now be considered that upcoming events that are booked for the coming months must be cancelled and the venues closed down until service providers can be paid.
“Since the NEC decision, there has been ongoing engagement with the Department of Personnel Management, the Department of Attorney-General and Justice and other relevant agencies to formalise the staff and salaries structure of National Events Secretariat.
“This is ahead of legislation to formalise National Events as a stand along entity. However, there has been limited progress as this process is held for several months within the Office of the Chief Secretary awaiting further advice.
“The Department of PM&NEC have today advised that National Events will stay with the Department of PM&NEC under the Chief Secretary. The obvious implication from this is that NEC is being overruled, added to this the funding received and maintenance revenue generated will be under the control of the Chief Secretary.”
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