An Ombudsman report released in parliament has highlighted “wrong and improper” conduct by government minister Sir Puka Temu over the agreement.
When he was Minister for Public Service in 2012, Sir Puka Temu negotiated with a company, Central Land Ltd, to build a 32-storey government office complex in PNG’s capital.
That the rental agreement was only for 10 years and in a zone where the maximum height allowable is for 12-storey buildings rang alarm bells.
The Ombudsman has urged Sir Puka, who is now Health Minister, to inform the government (National Executive Council) that the agreement should not be finalised.
The opposition leader Patrick Pruaitch said the Ombudsman’s investigations shed light on a deal which would have incurred massive debt for the country.
According to Mr Pruaitch, the government’s current annual office rental budget is only $US70 million.
He said of particular concern was that the agreement was being reached at a time when government was in default over numerous rental payments that have resulted in the lockout of Treasury, Customs, the National Disaster Office and other government agencies.
Central Lands, is owned by Naima Investments Ltd, a company linked to controversial former Indonesian fugitive, Djoko Tjandra.
Mr Tjandra was granted PNG citizenship in 2012 despite being wanted by Indonesian authorities for questioning over a major corruption case.
Naima Investments was behind a planned rice project in Dr Temu’s province, Central, which the minister backed but has not yet got off the ground.