MIPU team

(L-R) Lawyer and former Police Commissioner who is leading the investigation, Albert Nalpini, Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jay Ngwele, and First Political Advisor and lawyer, Jona Mesao.

Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jay Ngwele, says he has never signed any of the current contracts that has been referred to by the Opposition saying the statement by the Opposition is baseless.

He says the majority of the contracts issued under the stimulus package were awarded to contractors by the former government by the former minister.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) informed Daily Post that it was already looking into this matter before the Opposition issued its statement this week.

Mr Ngwele says when he took office over the last four and half weeks ago, he discovered that over 50 percent of the works under the COVID-19 stimulus package were already committed by the former government during the 11th legislature.

The Council of Ministers had approved Vt3 billion allocated for infrastructure development under COVID-19 stimulus package, which a total of Vt1.8 billion has already been committed.

And due to irregularities discovered in many of the contracts issued, the minister has initiated an investigation into all government contracts awarded to international and local contractors.

On May 11, the minister wrote to the Director General of MIPU, Harrison Luen and Director Allen Faerua, informing them of the appointment of the investigation team that will involve Leader Consulting, owned by Webster Bule, a former government senior Valued Added Tax Auditor, and former Police Commissioner and lawyer, Albert Nalpini, who will lead the investigations.

The minister has requested three police officers to help the investigating team.

Copies of the letter were sent to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Attorney General, Solicitor General, Acting Police Commissioner and Chair of Feeder Road Project.

“When I entered this office, I found that majority of the works committed to local contractors have not started yet.

“A number of the contractors did not have machinery and many hired machinery from companies such as CCECC,” Minister Ngwele alleged, saying he does not have anything against CCECC but wants the investigation team to get to the bottom of these issues.

The minister labelled as false, the statement by Opposition that contracts given out were in favour of his associates and cronies, as the contracts referred to by the Opposition were done by the former minister of infrastructure under the former government that the current Opposition was part of.

He says he will be seeking legal action over these false accusations by the Opposition.

Once the investigation team completes its task, it will produce a report of its findings to the Attorney General and State Law Office where the next cause of action will be decided, which will likely lead to prosecution.

The investigation will take six weeks.

Some current members of parliament are expected to be implicated in this investigation.

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