Archive for corruption

PNG politicians’ grab power to misuse public money

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , on March 11, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Peter Jackson writes: THE PNG PARLIAMENT has weakened the investigative powers of the Ombudsman Commission and diluted politicians’ accountability for spending government funds.

It has established a so-called ‘parliamentary ombudsman committee’ that will make inquiries of its own.

This removes the independent power of the Commission to investigate matters such as politicians’ and departmental heads’ travel and the disbursement of regional funds.

All the politicians in the House were in on the act, voting 83-0 to amend the section of the Constitution empowering the Commission to issue directives to ministers and heads of departments.

Section 27(4) allows the Ombudsman to issue directives to prevent payments from public funds to these officeholders if it feels there is impropriety.

In the past, the Commission has used this provision to stop MPs taking overseas trips when it felt the trips were a waste of public funds and has prevented the Finance Department issuing cheques if it felt the motives were political.

The Commission froze the RESI (Rehabilitation Education Sector Infrastructure) funds last year after allegations that millions of kina were misappropriated.

It has been alleged that RESI funds were misused and diverted away from Kerevat national high school, an issue covered extensively by PNG Attitudeearlier this year.

Introducing the amendments as a private motion, Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina said section 27(4) had been used by the Ombudsman many times to stop cheques, thus preventing the implementation of government policy.

“We want to make it very clear that the action of the Ombudsman in issuing such directives is wrong,” he said.

Mr Maladina said there had been many physical confrontations between officers of the Ombudsman and PNG leaders at the international airport, as the ‘leaders’ sought to take trips that the Ombudsman considered inappropriate.

Let last year, an assassination attempt was made on the life of the Chief Ombudsman, Chronox Manek.The gunmen were caught but their motive has not been esablished.

YOU CAN READ MORE FROM PETER JACKSON ON HIS PNG ATTITUDE BLOG – http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/

Somare looking increasingly corrupt and out of touch

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , , on March 10, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

It has been a bad seven days for Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Michael Somare.

Firstly, last Wednesday, he was recommended for further investigation by the police under the criminal code for his unlawful conduct in engineering the escape of Julian Moti from lawful custody.

PNGs Prime Minister is looking increasingly corrupt

Then it became apparent that the Prime Minister had also failed to cooperate with the Ombudsman Commission investigation of the Moti affair and that he had attempted to prevent senior civil servants from giving evidence – leading the Ombudsman Commission and the media to claim a cover-up orchestrated by the PM.

To make things worse, on Friday of last week Somare was further accused of having compromised sea safety by unlawfully interfering in the appointment of the Chairman of the National Maritime Safety Authority and fostering on the nation a candidate who was eminently unsuitable for the role.

But it is the Prime Ministers reaction to these unfavorable findings from PNGs respected and independent Ombudsman Commission that says most about his lack of respect for the institutions of government and his arrogant disdain for the people of Papua New Guinea.

Rather than promising to cooperate with the proper authorities who are trying to do their constitutional jobs, the Prime Minister has chosen to attack them and try and destroy their credibility.

The Prime Minister has said he finds the “conduct of the Ombudsman Commission to be calculating, mischievous and lacking in transparency” and that its motive as appearing to be “sinister and reflecting a lack of objectivity and fairness in dealing with the matter at hand”

The Prime Minister seems to be forgetting that it was he who refused to cooperate with the Ombudsman Investigation in the Julian Moti affair; that it was he who issues an order trying to prevent senior civil servants from giving evidence; and that it was he who insisted Hamish Sharp be appointed Chair of the Maritime Safety Authority at a time when Sharp had been heavily criticized by the Authority over the sinking of one of his vessels and was suing the authority over its findings and for K1 million for defamation.

Further the Commission, after a 3 year inquiry and based on a 70 page report and substantial evidence including sworn testimony from numerous senior individuals including the former acting PNG Defence Force Commander and police Director of Legal Services, that it was Prime Minister Somare who unlawfully ordered Julian Moti’s release from custody and his escape from PNG on an air force plane.

The Ombudsman has also found that Somare coerced his Transport Minister to appoint Hamish Sharp as Chair of the Maritime Safety Board and that the appointment was made without due compliance with the law.  Since his appointment in 2006 Mr Sharp has only called two board meetings “seriously impacting on safety for the travelling public and ships crews”.

By attacking the Ombudsman Commission the Prime Minister is giving his approval for every other senior leader to ignore the institutions of government and showing that he regards himself to be above the law.

Clearly PNG can make no progress in defeating endemic corruption while Michael Somare remains Prime Minister.

Illegal logging destroying PNG

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , , on February 27, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng
BARNEY ZWARTZ in The Age

Environmental vandalism by loggers in Papua New Guinea is destroying the nation and its people while Australia makes futile promises to try to influence logging policy, according to a former missionary and a landowner.

Brother Jim Coucher, a former missionary in Papua New Guinea.Brother Jim Coucher, a former missionary in Papua New Guinea.Photo: John Woudstra

Brother Jim Coucher worked in and near Vanimo on the north-west coast of PNG for 43 years until five years ago. Just returned from his first visit since, he was utterly horrified at the changes, he said yesterday, the speed of destruction caused by logging and corruption, and the plight of the local people.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised at December’s Copenhagen conference on climate change that he would try to persuade his neighbours to reduce logging.

”I don’t think anyone has an idea of the extent of logging, and I don’t think anything can be done,” Brother Coucher said. He does not want his religious order identified for fear of reprisals against members still working in Papua New Guinea.

A PNG landowner now living in Australia said yesterday that loggers came on to his land without consultation or compensation, and stockpiled logs there. The landowner, a sub-clan chief, said loggers destroyed a creek that had provided fish for his villagers.

They bulldozed breadfruit trees, sago and coconut palms, and built a wharf in the harbour that meant villagers could not fish. They hired almost no villagers, he said. Instead, they brought in unskilled Asian workers.

”Malnutrition is rampant. It is horrible to see young mothers who are skin and bone. There is no sanitation, no running water – it is a time bomb,” the landowner said. ”They are logging Vanimo to its death.”

Brother Coucher said the villagers were worse off than 20 years ago, because the logging companies and the government don’t put anything back.

Soldiers and police guard the logging camps under corrupt arrangements, prostitution and AIDS had become rife, and people could not support their families, he said. Logging practices by Malaysian companies in PNG have long been of international concern, but Brother Coucher said matters were much worse in Vanimo and Sandaun Province because it was so remote.

”You can only get in by sea or air, and there’s one coastal road. To calm the locals, the main landowner in an area might be given a vehicle and he supposedly keeps the villagers quiet,” he said.

”At first they welcome the loggers because they think it might mean money, but in fact they get very little out of it. The loggers don’t do any replanting or clearing up at all … and they give no benefits to the people. They use bulldozers to drag the logs, which creates all sorts of problems with erosion.”

In all the years the loggers had been in Sandaun there had been no development, Brother Coucher said, except for some work by AusAid on a hospital and putting bitumen on the road.

An AusAid spokeswoman said Australia and PNG were working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, having signed a forest carbon partnership two years ago.

This included an initial $3 million to tackle policy and capacity challenges, plus a commitment to tackle illegal logging and a program to help PNG manage its forests sustainably.


Transparency International slams government for lack of respect

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , , , on February 22, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

TRANSPARENCY International PNG (TIPNG) has slammed the government for its lack of repect for the ordinary people of Papua New Guinea and its ‘don’t care’ attitude about missing public finances, in comments reported in The National.

TI has also highlighted how the government’s tolerance of wide spread corruption translates into the non delivery of services to the vast majority of the population and foreshadows how most of the proceeds from major new projects like LNG will likely be stolen.

Transparency International’s concerns have been fueled by the findings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which has documented the collapse of the Governments’ financial management systems and revealed a complete lack of accountability within the public service.

TIPNG chairman Peter Aitsi said: “It is very sad to learn from the PAC that from the 1,000 inquiries carried out by the PAC into the operations of various Government agencies, hospital boards, and trust accounts, most have not complied with lawful requirements. “The Government must wake up. The PAC has sounded the alarm and the National Executive Council (NEC) must address this situation as its highest priority. “We understand the various PAC reports have been sitting with the NEC gathering dust. “If this is true, then indeed this is a cause for national shame.”

He said it was totally unacceptable that the Government, particularly the NEC, turned a blind eye to the reports. “What does it tell our people when one of the highest decision-making bodies in our country allows public money to be mismanaged and stolen. “It creates doubts and the people are asking, don’t they care? Are they involved? “This state of affairs suggests the Government has no respect for the people it is sworn to serve and is certainly not serious about ensuring that proper procedures and regulations, particularly the Financial Management Act, are adhered to by all agencies in a transparent manner.”

Mr Aitsi said such lack of action by the Government continued to feed and encourage more unlawful practices, translating into non-delivery of goods and services to ordinary Papua New Guineans. The PAC reports and the statement issued must resonate with the key people in Government that we are heading on a dangerous path. In the words of the PAC member and Eastern Highlands Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith, the loss of public funds as a result of corruption could be as high as K3 billion kina.

“If these corrupt networks are able to steal K3 billion of public money within our current economic levels, how much more are they likely to steal when the revenue for the LNG start flowing if we do not take firm and decisive action to fix our Government systems?”

Papua New Guinea a failed state says MP

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , , on February 19, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

MP Sam Basil says the findings of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are a sign that Papua New Guinea is a “failed state”.

The PAC, of  which Basil is a member, has found that accountability and transparency in the use of public money within all but five of 1000 government agencies has collapsed.

Just one example is the 100 million kina ($A40 million) missing from the National Forest Authority, the body overseeing and administering logging permits for an industry labelled in 2006 “as 70 per cent illegal”.

PAC Chairman Timothy Bonga has said  he is shocked by the poor result.

“The whole functional system of the (Forest) Authority has collapsed and the original finding of the Auditor General that 100 million kina ($A40 million) simply disappeared and the (Forest) Authority had no ability to audit or trace these funds,” he said.

“In total, we have made inquiry into 1000 agencies, each examined from 2003 to 2008.

“The findings have shown that the management and accountability by our public servants and the government has collapsed miserably”.

Bonga said the Bank of PNG, Institute of Public Administration, Post PNG, Goroka Base Hospital and Alotau Hospital were the only government entities well-managed.

The worrying state of affairs came from a PAC inquiry examining 33 government departments, 25 subsidiary agencies including 19 provincial treasuries, 19 provincial governments over 400 districts, 19 urban authorities, 19 hospital boards, 116 statutory corporations and all trust accounts.

In September 2008, the PAC found most government department heads did not even know how to make the simplest of bank transactions.

In 2008, the PAC estimated that over the past 10 years more than a $1 billion kina ($A400 million) had gone missing from PNG finance coffers.

Bail for Chinese murder suspects a disgrace – but not a surprise

Posted in Tan attempted murder with tags , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

The ugly face of corruption and the power and influence of the Chinese mafia was clearly on display in Port Moresby on Friday as Magistrate Fred Tomo granted bail to two Chinese men accussed of the shooting and attempted murder of businessman Jason Tan on January 2nd this year.

The two Chinese, Chanjiang Gao and Xue Zhufu, were released on bail of just K2,000 each despite the facts of the case which include that neither man can speak English or Tok Pisin, one is unemployed, both were arrested close to the scene of the attempted murder, both were in the vehicle from the crime scene, and they were in possession of guns, one of which was unlicensed, black face masks and gloves and false number plates.

The two Chinese suspects have been released

Clearly it is highly likely that both men will now disappear from sight and it is very unlikely that either will ever appear in court again. No wonder the National newspaper reported they were “beaming with happiness and making thumbs up signs” when coming out of court.

Both Magistrate Fred Tomo, who granted the two men bail despite the overwhelming evidence against them, the flight risk and the seriousness of the charges; and the police investigating the case who apparently have done little to advance the prosecution over the last six weeks should be forced to explain themselves.

When Mr Tan was shot at on January 2nd and the two Chinese arrested, we all expected that the Chinese mafia would ensure that justice would NOT be done. Mr Tomo and the police it seems have proved us all correct.

Controversy over LNG project another symptom of corruption

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

While major resource projects continue to extract millions of dollars of oil and minerals from the ground, life for ordinary Papua New Guineans just gets worse and energy giant ExxonMobil’s new liquified natural gas project looks set to continue the trend .

Already work has been suspended on the gas liquefaction plant in Port Moresby after four local villagers were killed in a tribal dispute and extra police and troops are being rushed to the Southern Highlands to quell tribal violence at that end of the project.

With rising maternal mortality rates; increasing poverty and only 45% of children finishing primary school it seems corruption will ensure this latest large-scale projects will only benefit the rich – as Al Jazeerah reports in this new video.