Sunday, 12 March 2017

Complying with the rule of law can make PNG a great nation; Opposition leader Don Polye says

FOR Papua New Guinea to progress as a great nation, its leaders and their people must strictly comply with rule of law, Opposition Leader Don Polye said in a media statement.

Mr Polye said the country’s development status quo could only be improved only through a strict compliance to rule of law and its enforcement.

“Our laws have been breached time and time again. Corruption has reached unprecedented level. All these warrant for a radical leadership,” he said.

Polye said lessons must be learnt from the United Stated of America, citing Trump’s administration tightening laws to make his people great.

He said he did not only want to see a fair and just society but an upright nation as well.
He justified that these attributes must be cultured in PNG to avoid deals like Manumanu and K3 billion UBS amongst others.

“With God’s wisdom, our alternative government wants to make PNG happy, wise, healthy and wealthy.
“When in power, our first 100 days in office will be to reform the public service and the systems of governance,” he told yet another record crowd at Sirunki in Enga province on Friday (March 10).

He outlined that those reformed would be departments, establishment of Chief Secretary’s post, Public Prosecutor, Auditor General’s office, Ombudsman Commission, Police and Task Force Sweep amongst others.

“Our economy will be reformed into one that is resilient and sustainable with more focus on agriculture and tourism to make our people economically independent,” he said.

Polye said the reform would save over K3 billion for the country’s purse.
He said he would start prosecuting leaders who misappropriated public funds. 

Don Polye speaking to a crowd in Surinki. Image: PNG Opposition Media/PR. 
PNG is sinking if nothing is done to rescue:
It is the duty of every concerned citizen of this nation to speak against bad governance that is destroying the fabric of this nation.

In another occasion while speaking at Wagan Lahu village, Morobe Province last week, Opposition Leader Don Polye said though our forefathers set this nation on a path to prosperity, young leaders of today have steered this nation away from its intended destination.

“There’s no doubt that we are sinking fast by the day and the signs and symptoms are obvious,” Polye stated at the Nawaeb electorate.

“The country’s elite population, including the general public, must not turn a blind eye on the corruption within the system of governance and pretend that all is well.

“Speak against it and act within the boundaries of the law to report and bring to justice those responsible.”

Polye said it is the duty of the executive government to denounce corruption and lead the country in a “just and fair” manner but to date, the government had failed to do so.

He said the government continues to entertain corruption, the latest being the more than K50 million Manumanu land fraud that resulted in the sidelining of two senior government ministers.

“The people must take it upon themselves to weed out corruption as they cannot rely on the government.”

PNG Opposition MPs on corruption. Image: PNG Loop.
The list of COIs increasing without actions taken
Meanwhile, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is calling on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to honour his promise to carry out the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Manumanu land sale in Central Province.

Chairman of TIPNG, Lawrence Stephens, says TIPNG welcomes efforts to uncover facts and investigate alleged wrong doing.

“It is in the interest of the people of Papua New Guinea and particularly the people of Manumanu that the investigations be carried out immediately and those that are found to have acted fraudulently to be charged and face the courts.”

TIPNG, however, remains appalled by the long list of multiple COIs that have not yet been acted on and individuals named continue to enjoy impunity.

“TIPNG insists our political leaders urgently act on the recommendations of these numerous COIs. To date, the outstanding number of CoI findings and the lack of actual enforcement of those findings and recommendations, has impacted negatively on the public confidence in the COI process.

“Action taken will assist to restore the public confidence in the systems of Government. And where recommended, the Police and Public Prosecutor's Office must fulfil their duty and begin proceedings for offences committed.”

Stephens says over the years, the Government has assured the people of PNG of immediate actions but have failed to deliver on its promises.

“And the Manumanu land sale appears to be another questionable deal that has been concocted to enrich certain individuals with public funds," he states.

TIPNG hopes to see that the blatant injustice in the Manumanu land deal are thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken against the perpetrators.

“TIPNG joins the wider community in calling on the PM to honour his word and ensure the people of Manumanu’s rights are respected.”

Photo: (Manumanu, Magabaira and Pinu landowners during a gathering last month against illegal grabbing of their customary lands) - Image: PNG Loop.
The Commission of Inquiry
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made the announcement on the 06th Feb for a full examination of briefs provided by Government agencies involving the land deal in Central Province.

O’Neill said it is in the public interest that he has decided to establish the COI to investigate allegations levelled against senior ministers and senior members of departments.
The matter has also been referred to the Police Commissioner for the Fraud Squad to carry out its own investigation.
The Ombudsman Commission will also carry out their own investigations for leadership code breaches.
The COI will include the conduct of senior officials at the Department of Defence, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, Kumul Consolidated Holdings, the Office of the Valuer General, the Office of the State Solicitor and the Department of Treasury, and the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL) trust.
The investigation will also include the private sector, people who owned those portions of land, and anybody else who was involved in the sale of this particular land.
A significant focus of investigations will be on the sale and purchase of portion 406 in Manumanu at a cost of K46 million by Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH), and also the purchase of portions 422 for K7.2 million and 423 for K9.2 million by Department of Defence.
O’Neill said the National Executive Council did not have any visibility or give any specific approval for the purchase of land by these two agencies of Government.
NEC had given approval for the agencies to work together for the long-term relocation of the naval base, and for the relocation of Murray Barracks and Taurama Barracks.
Transactions above K10 million have to come through Cabinet for approval. This did not happen in this case, O’Neill said.
O’Neill added that these transfers required intergovernmental agencies to facilitate.
He said it appears that individual Government agencies have taken it upon themselves, without proper checks and balances, to undertake land acquisition arrangements.
That is why the Commission of Inquiry must deal with these issues, and the manner in which these decisions were carried out.

But a week later, O’Neill announced that NEC agreed to an Administrative Inquiry than a COI. 

O’Neill said the decision for the change was because of a court proceeding testing the legality and payments of past COI.
“Today NEC have decided that we will have an Inquiry that is Administrative in nature, but the principles of accountability and transparency and all the other investigative requirements will still be conducted by a leading legal professionals,” Prime Minister O’Neill said this afternoon.   
“NEC today appointed John Griffin, a Queens Council, of the Queensland Bar to inquire and investigates the five land transactions through this inquiry.”
 O’Neill said Griffin is an experienced QC and is well versed with laws of the country.
“This appointment will not prevent the ongoing investigation conducted by OC and Police fraud investigation,” the PM said.
 He said the inquiry will run for four weeks, and the report will be tabled in the last sitting of this term of Parliament.
O’Neill said the investigation will look at the roles of the relevant ministers involved in the purchase of land to relocate the PNGDF establishment out of Port Moresby.
He added that the investigation will also look at the roles of the different departments and departmental heads involved in the transactions and purchase of the lands.  
The inquiry will cost taxpayers K2 million.
This shift has angered the opposition when Don Polye says the Administrative Investigation will be a duplication of what Ombudsman Commission, Anti-Corruption and Fraud Squad will do. 
The Opposition has described this move as a waste of taxpayer's money and they doubt whether it be complete or not. 
There is already a long list of other COIs to be dealt with.
Don Polye discussing corruption issues others. Image. Facebook.

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