LABOUR and Industrial Relations Secretary Mary Morola has been suspended pending investigations into allegations relating to the “influx of foreigners” into the country.
Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali told The National yesterday that Cabinet had made a decision on May 3 to suspend Morola.
George Bopi, the chief of staff at the Office of Prime Minister and NEC, has been appointed acting Labour secretary pending the investigation, Kali said.
Kali will lead the Government team investigating the allegations. Members will be drawn from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Finance and other central agencies.
Kali said the Government had been concerned about the “influx of foreigners into the country, foreigners who were unqualified, do not speak English and were doing jobs that Papua New Guineans should be doing, jobs reserved for Papua New Guineans”.
“The Government was very concerned about that and gave the Minister for Labour Benjamin Poponawa the opportunity to relay those allegations to the secretary (Morola).”
Based on that, she has now been suspended,” Kali said.
He said the suspension would be for about three months, “but the quicker the better”.
Morola, pictured, was appointed acting secretary to the department in 2015 and officially confirmed in February last year.
Attempts yesterday to get a comment from Morola were unsuccessful.
Kali said the appointment of Bopi as acting secretary was because they needed someone from outside the department.
“The reasoning being that a lot of senior officers in the department may be implicated,” Kali said.
“We needed to get someone from outside the department but also someone who is highly qualified to manage the department during the period of her suspension.”
He said the allegations were public knowledge because they had been raised in Parliament during question by MPs and others.
“The prime minister (Peter O’Neill) was questioned a lot of times about the influx of foreigners,” Kali said.
“The minister for Labour also expressed disappointment about the number of foreigners coming in and doing jobs that Papua New Guineans could do.”
The parliamentarian who raised the issue in the floor of parliament Oro Governor Hon. Garry Juffa said he welcomed the suspension of Labor Secretary Morola but its timing smacks of election fever gimmickry.
"I hope that this is not merely an effort to win votes for PNC and O'Neill. Why was this not done earlier?," Juffa asked.
"Meanwhile will the transnational criminals who have corrupted the Department and perpetrated the corruption be dealt with? Will the illegals be apprehended and charged and fined and deported?" the Oro Governor said.