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Old 12-04-2003, 11:44 PM
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Justice eventually happening

Corruption is simply the use of public office by an individual or group of people to get more than they are paid for their jobs. It is generally obtained in bribes which are paid in cash but it can also be in favours, in appointments to an office that the person has no qualification for and in obtaining other benefits which allow the person to live a much higher life style than she or he would be able to do on their ordinary salary.

Corruption in PNG occurs at many levels. Some people have become fabulously rich through their efforts at diverting public money to their own pockets. They drive cars they could not afford and own houses and other property that they would never have been able to buy from their own salaries.

On Wednesday this week, two related events took place which should give Papua New Guineans some hope for the future of the country.

In the morning, Transparency International (PNG) hosted a meeting at which a number of agencies reported on progress in follow-up action to the National Provident Fund inquiry and in the afternoon, the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) had its first meeting for the year to decide what it would do in 2003.

Before looking at these two events we should remind ourselves about what corruption is and why it is so bad for PNG or any country.

On the other hand, there are others who demand a small K10 or the famous “six-pack” to carry out their jobs from day to day or do some extra favours. In many cases, it is the small corruption that most affects ordinary Papua New Guineans because it has to come out of their pockets when they are already struggling to live on their fortnightly salary or wages.

Corruption takes place for two different reasons. Firstly, for naked greed which is the case when a leader grabs millions of kina of public money and uses it for his own benefit.

Secondly, because the officer earns so little that he has difficulty feeding his family and in desperation looks for a way to improve his income. Both are equally bad for the country.

Corruption is bad for the country in a number of ways. When someone steals public money it means that same money will not be available to buy medicine for aid posts, materials for schools or maintenance of roads, schools and aid posts.

When someone accepts a bribe it means that they are going to make a decision which is not in the best interests of the country and we are not getting the best value we can from our money and often we see the results when a road starts to wear out only weeks after it is finished, a building starts to wear out, machinery breaks down or soldiers don’t get fed because the money has run out.

Studies have shown that there is a strong relationship throughout the world that corruption and poverty go hand in hand. Countries that have high levels of corruption have a large number of poor people.

Other studies have shown that investors prefer to invest their money in countries that have less corruption rather than those that have a lot of corruption.

In countries where there is a lot of corruption there tends to be a few very rich people and many very poor people.

The choice for PNG is whether it wants to continue down the path of corruption or to stop it and use is scarce resources for the development of the whole country, especially those who live in rural areas.

There is a lot of corruption in PNG and it affects everyone every day in one way or another. However, it doesn’t mean that everyone is corrupt or that we have to expect all of our leaders to be corrupt.

The people made their choice during the last election when they voted out 80 of the 109 members of Parliament. They clearly said to the Parliament that they did not want the country to continue in the same direction that it had been going.

The new members have been elected to change that direction and one of the things that they will have to try and halt is corruption. The whole country will be watching them and hoping that they will be successful.

The Transparency International (TI) meeting was good news to those who are opposed to corruption and are anxiously waiting to see if anything will happen to those who were referred to the authorities from the NPF inquiry.

It was attended by the Attorney-General, the Public Prosecutor, the Commissioner of Police, the Chief Ombudsman, the president of the Law Society, the chief executive of the Institute of Accountants and the Controller of Foreign Exchange at the Bank of PNG.

The Internal Revenue Commission and the Valuers’ Registration Board were inadvertently missed out from the invitation list.

There were around 250 concerned individuals present at the Granville motel.

TI had invited these authorities to the meeting to explain what progress had been made with their inquiries and whether any further action could be expected.

It made the invitation because it did not want the NPF inquiry to follow other inquiries which have cost PNG millions of kina, found that millions of kina have been misused but no one has ever been punished or even charged for the loss of this money.

Many of the speakers from the floor of the meeting were equally worried that there had to be some follow-up and that those who were referred were allowed their opportunity in court to have their guilt or their innocence proven to the whole country.

The good news is that progress is being made. The Ombudsman explained that his commission is sifting through the thousands of pages of evidence to determine which of the 18 leaders who were referred are still leaders and are in breach of the leadership code.

He explained that his commission did not receive a copy of the full report until more than a month after it had been tabled in Parliament. Nevertheless, he promised that the commission would complete its work within six months of the tabling of the report of the inquiry, which is early June.

All the other authorities reported that they did not receive copies of the report for many weeks after it was tabled and this is a weakness in the system that needs to be rectified. It has to be determined whose responsibility it is to make referrals and who is responsible to make the official referral along with the relevant information to the authorities who need to take further action.

The Police Commissioner had better news for the meeting. He said the police had finished their investigations into four cases and that warrants were in the process of being issued.

He said the most high-profile case of Jimmy Maladina had been referred to the Public Prosecutor and Attorney-General for extradition orders (orders to bring someone back from overseas). It was expected that this would be completed soon. Investigations into the other cases were continuing.

Like the Ombudsman, the Police Commissioner said that there was a huge amount of evidence to be looked at and that he had 32 people referred to him for investigation.

Each case had to be carefully and even-handedly investigated to find out if there had been a breach of the law which needed to be prosecuted.

Both he and the Public Prosecutor pointed out that being referred by the inquiry was not sufficient for someone to be charged because a case had to be established that would stand up in a court of law.

The Public Prosecutor explained the delicate position that he is in.
He is a Constitutional Office holder which means that he is not responsible to the police or the Attorney-General.

That is so that he makes up his mind fairly and independently about whether to prosecute someone on the merits of the case and no one should be able to influence that decision. This is a fundamental right guaranteed to all Papua New Guineans and residents and it has to be guarded carefully.

On the other hand, he pointed out that he also has an obligation to provide information about his work to the people. It is a difficult balance between guarding the privacy of the accused and informing the people what is happening.

On top of that, he has to satisfy himself that the case against the accused is good enough to win in court. He confirmed that he was currently looking at a number of cases and that action was being taken in one of them.

The Institute of Accountants reported that three of its members had been referred to the accountants’ Statutory Committee of the Accountants Registration Board and investigations were proceeding.

The Law Society also reported that referrals had been made to the lawyers Statutory Committee and that investigations were proceeding but neither body could indicate when further action might be taken.

The Foreign Exchange Controller reported that investigations were under way.

The meeting was lively and many people spoke of their frustrations with the slowness of the system.

They asked if it could be improved so that those who are implicated in such hearings in the future could be dealt with quicker and to the satisfaction of the majority of Papua New Guineans who are opposed to corruption.

The panel emphasised that the due process of the law had to be followed and that everyone in PNG has the right to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. All explained that they were working under pressure because they did not have the necessary resources to carry out their jobs properly.

The Public Prosecutor said he couldn’t afford to use the photo copier to prepare extradition papers. These are symptoms of a system that is extremely short of funds and one that can ill afford large amounts of money going into the pockets of a lucky few.

It again point to the need for the government to face the very difficult decisions regarding the use of what resources it has.

These fundamental services can only be properly funded if other less important areas are stopped and the funds they are using transferred to the more important areas. PNG is trying to live beyond its means.

The CCAC meeting was of a different type. It put forward suggestions about where the war against corruption should proceed in the future and this will be the subject of the next INA Forum.

Corruption in PNG occurs at many levels. Some people have become fabulously rich through their efforts at diverting public money to their own pockets. They drive cars they could not afford and own houses and other property that they would never have been able to buy from their own salaries.
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Old 27-04-2003, 03:16 AM
unatutu unatutu is offline
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The Root Cause of Corruption by Maraga

As aussie has mentioned, corruption is eating away the very fabric of this beautiful country. Coming out of the current situation that the country is in will need the concerted effort of ALL Papua New Guineans.

First and foremost, how did corruption come about in such a small country with vibrant cultures and people? It all goes back to the system that was introduced to administer and govern the people in a country that was more that 90% illiterate at the time of independence (Sept. 16 1975).

Most people did not understand the system that was introduced and the theoretical underpinnings of the system. The free market democratic system of government, especially the Westminster System that PNG has adopted, is a mammoth and complex institution to comprehend by someone who is not adequately educated.

Great Britain trailed and refined the system over a period of more than 400 years and is continually subjecting the system to changes in order to meet the needs and the demands of their populace. The same is true for the United States of America and Australia and the other developed countries of the first world.

However, in the case of PNG, the system has been totally misunderstood and abused by many people. Instead of following set procedures and processes, many people try to take short cuts and undermine the system that has been put in place. The systems that have been put in place have been totally disregarded out of lack of adequate education and total ignorance by many people. Hence, we have those who demand a small K10 or the famous “six pack” to carry out a job and those out of desperation looking for a way to improve their income as noted by aussie.

The root cause is the limited understanding of the people of the system. If we are serious about addressing this problem of corruption at all levels, the government has to take a serious stand in educating the people all over again about the type of government we have in place and the whole idea behind having such a system in place. Secondly, we have to have leaders in the parliaments who are genuinely concerned about the affairs of the people. These leaders have to be true leaders in their heart. I have not personally come across such a Member of Parliament yet and am looking forward to the day when such leaders will be elected.

All in all, leaders come from the people and if the people are not in tune with the whole reason why we have such a system of government as the one we have in place in PNG, we are only addressing the problems on the surface of it and not the root of the problem. Let us all start appropriately educating our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, and our children, as concerned Papua New Guineans, and see the result of such a course of action.

I applaud the website’s initiative to bring across to the attention of the public the issues that are affecting the very livelihood of the people of PNG. Don’t forget: THE COUNTRY IS INDEED ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSING.
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