Post Courier Govt to Increase Budget for Foreign Missions
Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko admitted that PNG’s overseas missions were having financial problems, but assured the government would increase its budget allocation next year to bolster their operations.
He said the government would bring the Foreign Office back to its former days as a top ministry.
Responding to media reports of embassies going bankrupt, Tkatchenko told the media yesterday that there were outstanding inheritance issues which he would rectify with the full support of the government.
“With a better budget, better management and better direction, we will put PNG back on the map where it belongs.”
“I thank the treasurer for understanding and seeing what we need, including our prime minister who appointed me to ensure these legacy issues are resolved,” Tkatchenko said.
“I’m here to clean up the mess, get it right and make sure the department is fully funded so that all of our assignments can operate freely without any budget restrictions.
“I will ensure that they represent the country in a professional and appropriate manner and that they have the necessary resources for their day-to-day operations.
“I have made it clear my situation and my guidelines that we cannot go back to the past and I will not allow that to happen again,” he added.
Minister Tkatchenko said that the Department and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are the face of PNG and the government must retain its status as Prime Minister.
“When I hear stories about staff not getting paid and embassies emptying out, it’s embarrassing for PNG.
“Under my watch, I will fight every day of the week to ensure I get the proper budget allocation.”
Meanwhile, Mr Tkatchenko announced that three overseas missions would be closed as they are no longer relevant to Papua New Guinea at the current level they are.
He said the removal of designated overseas high commissions and embassies would go through the National Executive Council.
“We will close missions that are of no importance to PNG and consider opening new ones only if they have major tangible benefits.
We do not take this situation lightly; I appreciate the work of the personnel currently serving our country overseas.
“A proper analysis and process would be done to see if it is worth spending thousands and thousands of kina every year on an overseas mission.
“Those in positions at these overseas missions that will be closing will be called back to assess their ability to work, whether they continue or leave the department.
“We will also look at other countries that will be of major benefit to trade, economy and security.
“It is not easy to live in a foreign country, to respect its laws and to make the most of missions abroad.
“We will ensure that there is careful diplomacy, that we have properly trained leaders to represent our country at the highest level.
“Ambassadors, high commissioners, honorary consuls will be appointed on merit to represent our country at the highest level,” Tkatchenko said.