Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) Board Chairman Sam Masang on Monday defied calls to resign after telling senators in a letter that he has not violated any laws as alleged by the lawmakers.
In a 10-page letter to Senator John Skebong, Masang said he continues to have the support of the other board members to continue as their chair.
“With that being the position of my colleagues, in addition to the fact that I have not violated the laws on the conflict of interest as you accused me, nor violated any laws of the Republic of Palau or policies of PPUC, I must therefore, inform you that I will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors,” Masang stated.
Masang was accused of profiting from his board position with his company Palau Telecoms, being paid over $75,000 for communication services to PPUC.
However Masang said the agreement between PPUC and Palau Telecoms, was forged in 2010, even before he joined the board of PPUC.
He said that the accusation of conflict of interest against him “has been widely blown out, out of context and politically exaggerated with malice, from a simple lawful transaction into a dirty political arena where real and genuine issues are distorted to confuse the innocent minds and to herd to go against the management of PPUC, its Board of Directors and myself,” Masang stated.
He turned the tables against the senators who are calling for his resignation of allegedly committing ethics violations themselves.
Masang also accused Senator Rukebai Inabo of corruption for allegedly using PPUC money during her stint as the utilities CEO to pay for her personal loan.
Masang also refuted allegations that PPUC is not addressing concerns raised by customers. Masang said it was the Senate which failed to provide PPUC documents to support claims of its failure to conduct proper investigation of customer complaints.
He said, PPUC is aware of its responsibility to its customers as a public corporation.
Masang also noted that the delay of the Koror-Airai Sanitation Project is beyond the control of PPUC as they have had encountered challenges to meet the deadline.
He said that questions on the delays should be brought before Finance Minister Elbudechel Sadang and Minister Charles Obichang who are part of the Project Steering Committee that sets the direction and oversees the project.
Masang also said Congress is to be blamed if there is a potential delay of loan payment of the project as it had urged lawmakers to appropriate a subsidy to PPUC to cover payments.
Masang said it was Congress who have urged PPUC to hold off tariff increase for wastewater, which has placed PPUC in a financial constraint which could affect the loan payment.
The KASP project is funded through an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan. Under agreement, loan payment should start by April 1, 2018.
The project scheduled completion was by the middle of 2018.
Senator John Skebong, chair of the Senate CIP Committee, on January 29 demanded Masang to resign as a member of the PPUC Board of Directors.
Skebong also cited other grounds for Masang to vacate his post for failure to answer inquiries of the Senate; failure to compel investigation of customer complaints at not providing a necessary solution; and for failing to implement corrective action from the PPUC management.