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New Public Health Emergency Act Weakens Governance and Threatens Democracy in PNG

Friday 19th June 2020, Port Moresby – Constitutional freedoms and expectations of good governance in Papua New Guinea could be irrevocably damaged if the Government does not heed widespread concern and either amend or repeal the Public Health Emergency Act 2020 warns Transparency International PNG (TIPNG).

TIPNG has raised concerns over the lack of public consultation and justification prior to the enactment of a law that appears to excessively restrict citizens’ rights, within an indefinite time-period, and with no Parliamentary oversight.

“The Constitution of Papua New Guinea has strict measures on the use of Emergency Powers, for instance limiting any declared emergency to a maximum of two months, and only with the express authorization of our elected representatives in Parliament. Both of these measures are lacking in the new legislation, and this is a serious concern as it means there are fewer protections from the abuse of this power” said Peter Aitsi, Chairman of TIPNG in a statement.

“Since the declaration of the COVID-19 SOE in March 2020, the State has allocated substantial public funds to address the Emergency and yet has not fulfilled its promise to table an audited and detailed report of expenditure in Parliament. This new law further weakens this expectation of accountability and also lacks the critical safeguards against corruption that are provided in the Constitution such as a Parliamentary Committee to provide oversight on behalf of citizens.”

“The Government is urged to demonstrate leadership and act to either fix the weakness in the Public Health Emergency Act through amendments or repeal the Act entirely and rely on the Constitution and existing laws such as the Disaster Management Act 1984 for future emergencies. Failure to act will leave the door open for abuse by corrupt persons seeking to self-enrich from weak laws.”

These issues are not unique to Papua New Guinea other governments around the world have sought to enact legislation to address the global pandemic. However, in making laws, elected leaders must ensure they fully consider powers within existing legislation, the legislation be case specific, limited in scope, publicly transparent and promote accountability.

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TIPNG Rails at Lack of Political Will for Covid-19 Accountability

Tuesday 9th June 2020, Port Moresby  Three days have elapsed since the first opportunity for the Marape-Steven government to fulfil their promise to table a full audited expenditure report on the National COVID-19 State of Emergency (SOE).

With the resumption of Parliament on Tuesday 2nd June, and a further 14-day extension of the SOE, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is now calling on the government to demonstrate the political will required to ensure they keep their promise to be accountable to the people of Papua New Guinea.

In making this call TIPNG also reminds Members of Parliament and the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on the State of Emergency of their duty to ensure the government keeps its promises, and that the COVID-19 SOE Expenditure Report must be tabled before the end of the 14-day emergency SOE extension.

TIPNG Chairman Peter Aitsi, in a statement following the Parliament sitting last week, stated that it was concerning to see the Government defaulting on its promises to uphold transparency and accountability in the SOE process.

“Over the past month leading up to the resumption of parliament last Tuesday, the country was given every reassurance by the Government that it was on track to deliver on its promise to table these reports. The PM and Police Minister reported that they had received all bank statements, and there was a registry of suppliers and procurement contracts issued under the SOE,” said Mr. Aitsi.

“TIPNG is concerned it has been 46 days since the government claimed to have commenced this audit, and to date we have yet to see any such report” he said.

TIPNG has noted the government’s recent efforts to ensure some level of accountability in the SOE, with the addition of a new page on the National Procurement Commission website, which serves as an online portal for all COVID-19 procurement information. However, the formal process of tabling a report in Parliament on COVID-19 expenditure has not been delivered.

“The government’s failure to produce these audited financial reports as they had promised must not be taken lightly, as it represents a violation of the trust of Papua New Guineans who have had to endure the restrictions placed on their civil liberties over the past two months, under this SOE,” Mr. Aitsi said. 

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TIPNG Commends Marape Administration on Commitment to Accountability

Thursday 14th May 2020 – TIPNG acknowledges the Marape-Steven Government’s commitment to table a full audited report of COVID-19 SOE funding in Parliament when it resumes on June 2nd, 2020. TIPNG Chairman Peter Aitsi has commended the Government on taking the first steps towards breaking a trend of administrations evading public scrutiny that has plagued PNG emergency public procurement in recent years.

“It is very encouraging to note that our Government has now made this commitment to table a fully audited COVID-19 SOE funding report at the earliest available opportunity when Parliament resumes on June 2nd, 2020. This demonstrates that they are taking the responsibility to set a better example in the way that emergency public procurement can be managed,” he said.

“During what has been an unprecedented global experience and given our country’s recent financial woes, we must take every precaution to ensure the most effective and transparent use of the resources at our disposal,” said Mr. Aitsi.

In acknowledging the Government’s commitment to table the full COVID-19 SOE funding report, TIPNG recommends that the commitment must be complemented with several key actions over the next 18 days before the report is expected to be tabled in Parliament. To ensure that tangible transparency and accountability is achieved for the current SOE, TIPNG’s recommendations include:

  1. Publish SOE Procurement tenders, bids & contracts on the COVID-19 Information Website.
  2. For the NOC-19 to publicly outline the internal process for receiving donations from development partners, business houses & others so that journalists and the public are aware of what will be done with donations.
  3. Publish an online public Donations Registry with the corresponding Kina-value of donations, which is updated daily.
  4. Publish a public protocol so that all statements by Government Officials associated with COVID-19 are consolidated and shared through the online website platform (which is free to access on Telikom and Digicel). These statements can then be shared via a link on social media platforms such as Facebook by Government Officials.
  5. Resume daily televised media briefings and take questions from the public to instill confidence and trust in the source of information.

Successful implementation of these recommendations would not only boost the credibility of the report on the COVID-19 SOE funding but will increase public trust in the Government’s management of the ongoing SOE and enhance the confidence of PNG’s international donors and development partners.

TIPNG has pushed for greater accountability on the COVID-19 Funds through the release of timeline consolidating media reports of both internal allocations and external donations since the declaration of the State of Emergency (SOE). This timeline information was supported by a video message from the TIPNG Chairman reminding the Government to respect citizens’ right to ask questions and be provided answers on COVID-19 Funds.

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TIPNG CALLS FOR HEIGHTENED SCRUTINY ON BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP

TIPNG is calling for the Prime Minister and relevant Papua New Guinean agencies to investigate what appear to
be serious allegations of grand corruption against State Minister William Duma, as reported in the Australian
Financial Review earlier this week.

As Parliament prepares to convene its first sitting of the year, TIPNG urges Prime Minister Marape to live by his
words that he will fight corruption and that the example must now start with his own cabinet.

“When the Manumanu land deal allegations first surfaced in 2017, TIPNG supported the former Prime Minister’s call
for an investigation and in the interest of good governance, that Mr. Duma must step down as minister until he is
cleared. We now hear of similar allegations involving the setting up of shell companies and the purported abuse of
office to enrich certain individuals, all at the expense of the People of Papua New Guinea,” said TIPNG Chairman,
Peter Aitsi.

TIPNG now maintains the same call to Prime Minister Marape, that the Minister at the centre of this report must be
directed to step down and a proper independent investigation into the allegations must be undertaken immediately.
Given the transaction involved US dollars and an Australian listed company, there is prospect for the PNG Police and
anti-corruption agencies to work closely with the Australian Federal Police, the US Securities Exchange Commission
and the US Department of Justice to investigate the evidence exposed by the Australia Financial Review.

The main question that needs to be asked is why a company with only K2 capital, was set up days before being
granted a petroleum licence; before selling this same license to an international petroleum company for US$10.3m
(K36m) shortly thereafter. Most importantly who is the behind this company? Who are its beneficiaries? and what
role did they play?

TIPNG believes that failure by Prime Minister Marape to act on principles of good governance will only
embolden corrupted individuals and networks to continue their activities. While there are certain distinctions from
the Manumanu land scandal, as the matter involves a foreign firm & petroleum licenses, the principles of proper
governance & accountability of public office must still apply.

The use of shell companies and opaque company structures demonstrates the need for legislating a beneficial
ownership registry through the PNG Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI). Heightening the scrutiny
of beneficial ownership through the activation of the PNGEITI processes will assist in improving transparency in
licensing and revenue flows from major resource projects.

TIPNG reminds Prime Minister James Marape of his various statements declaring his commitment to fight
corruption, the time for talking is over. The PEOPLE OF PNG now NEED ACTION, before new projects like P’nyang and
others meet the same fate.

END THIS IMPUNITY!

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Our 3rd quarter newsletter is out!

Another busy quarter but our mission to empower people to act against corruption keeps us going!

Here’s an update on our activities in our 3rd quarter newsletter.

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Marape Government Must Table APEC Report for Accountability

Thursday 10th October 2019, Port Moresby– Media reports that officials may have swindled vast amounts of public money due to lax procurement and governance processes involved in the financing of the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Series of Meetings in Papua New Guinea are alarming says Transparency International PNG (TIPNG).

TIPNG has called on the Prime Minister James Marape to demonstrate how serious his government is about enforcing accountability by tabling the APEC Report in Parliament and acting on the serious allegations of misappropriation.

“The possible corruption involving funds for the APEC meeting has been a standing concern for TIPNG. TIPNG pointed out specific concerns in procurement processes to purchase the Maserati vehicles in October 2018. Unfortunately we can now see these concerns were well founded given the delay in tabling the APEC report which demonstrates a lack of accountability on the part of the senior bureaucrats and government executives who were responsible for managing the event,” said Chairman of TIPNG, Mr Peter Aitsi.

“Their negligence has resulted in millions of Kina being wasted and more worryingly it appears some of the funds cannot even be ‘accounted’. The Marape Government must act to address this outstanding issue, especially at a time when our country is going through very difficult economic conditions and where the government now has to drastically cut back on budgeted public expenditure,” added Mr Aitsi.

In the APEC Papua New Guinea 2018 Co-ordination Authority Act 2014, Section 29 (1) calls for the APEC Authority to provide the APEC Minister a final report on its performance and activities. Section 29 (2) (b) of the Act says that the APEC Report must be, “tabled in the Parliament by the Minister during the first sitting of Parliament after receipt of the report by the Minister.”

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PNG Needs Right To Information (RTI) Law to Address Public-Sector Corruption

Friday 27th September 2019, Port Moresby – A new report by Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) has shown that the public are unable to access documents from Government Departments because there is no existing law to enforce the public’s Right to Information (RTI). At the launch of the Our Right To Know, Their Duty Tell Report, to mark the International Day for Universal Access To Information, TIPNG called for the Marape-Steven Government to prioritise the RTI Law as a means for citizens to stop public-sector corruption.

“TIPNG surveyed 24 agencies in 2018-19 and found that for over-the-counter information requests, 90% of the time agencies would not provide any of the following 4 documents; current corporate plan, recent speech by the head of the agency, most recent audited financial report or most recent report with public statistics,” said Mr. Yuambari Haihuie, TIPNG’s Deputy Director -Policy & Advocacy, “This is deeply concerning because it means there is a pervasive culture of secrecy, the result being that citizens are unable to check on what our public-sector bodies are doing with our money.”

“A noteworthy finding is that 54% of the agencies that wouldn’t give the information in person, already had it uploaded on their website, which means that there is a break-down in the process of giving information to the public. Bear in mind that for over 40 years there hasn’t been an RTI Policy or Law, even though Section 51 of our National Constitution gives us the right,” said Mr. Haihuie at the launch of the Report, “The good news is that the government has already committed to drafting an RTI Law through the Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan 2018-2020, which was endorsed by cabinet in NEC Decision No. 323/2018, however the challenge is now to ensure that we put in place an effective law that empowers Papua New Guineans to demand accountability from all public offices and office-holders.”

TIPNG in the Our Right To Know, Their Duty To Tell Report calls for the establishment of an Information Commission to assist the public with requests for information from Government Departments. This independent commission will exist to ensure that the RTI Law, once it is drafted and enacted, is fully operational with a clear process for obtaining public information, and penalties for agencies or individuals that do not provide information. TIPNG recommends the Government look at successful models such as the RTI frameworks of Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.

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PNG needs vibrant citizens to uphold the Nation’s integrity: an Independence thought from TIPNG

Each citizen is responsible in building this nation. Papua New Guineans know from experience that the current Government, and previous regimes, could not solve all the problems. Like their predecessors, the current Government vowed to strengthen our democracy and restore the trust of citizens in government and its institutions. 

Papua New Guinea’s independence is about the people. These 44 years of continuity should inspire you to reflect on your strength as a citizen, so that you can live the values that were first put forward in 1975.

Since our inception in 1997, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) has existed for exactly half as long as the country. Over those years, we have witnessed the resilience of Papua New Guineans, who in the face of overwhelming impunity for the corrupt, have held the course. As a nation, we have staved off the risk of descending into anarchic ‘instability’ that was speculated by some commentators to be our inevitable future.

The new Government has just completed its first 100 days in office, with many statements about the agenda and intentions of ridding corruption, changes in ministerial portfolios and some paradigm shift. These new pushes towards transparency, accountability and integrity are a great opportunity to stop the corruption that plagues the daily lives of ordinary people and brings rot to the system. However, the Government efforts to fight corruption are only achievable if public power is monitored by relevant institutions but more importantly a vibrant civil society.

In the great words of US President Barrack Obama who made a call for the protection of citizens:

“Strong civil societies help uphold universal human rights. They promote good governance by making governments more effective and holding leaders like me to account. And they’re critical to economic development, because in our global economy, trade and investment flows to countries that give citizens the freedom to create and develop new ideas and that are protected by rule of law.” 

As we celebrate 44 years of our country’s independence, we must remind ourselves about the words in the Preamble of Our Constitution:

WE, THE PEOPLE, do now establish this sovereign nation and declare ourselves, under the guiding hand of God, to be the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. AND WE ASSERT, by virtue of that authority 

  • that all power belongs to the people—acting through their duly elected

representatives

  • that respect for the dignity of the individual and community interdependence are

basic principles of our society

  • that we guard with our lives our national identity, integrity and self-respect
  • that we reject violence and seek consensus as a means of solving our common

problems

  • that our national wealth, won by honest, hard work be equitably shared by all.

And together we can make the years ahead the best years our Nation has ever had if we take on our social responsibilities as citizens and rise above cynicism and doubt.

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Advocacy Liaison Officer: Apply Now!

ADVOCACY LIAISON – POLICY & ADVOCACY TEAM

 The Advocacy Liaison officer will develop, organize and execute a wide range of activities to influence policy according to the scope of TIPNG programmes, and specific  results-oriented projects. The Officer will carry out policy analysis and the develop position statements of TIPNG for advocacy.

Generic Responsibilities

  • Adherence to TIPNG policies and guidelines
  • Prepare and develop reports as required by management
  • Ensure proper filing of documents – online and offline
  • Live and breathe the values of TIPNG within and outside of the organisation and throughout all work carried out on behalf of the organisation
  • Actively seek Membership for TIPNG amongst Policy & Advocacy stakeholders

Specific Responsibilities 

  1. Team Tasks – Support the Policy & Advocacy Officer with day-to-day work of the Team by:
  • Working with the Policy & Advocacy Officer in keeping minutes of all stakeholder meetings and preparing team reports for donors, board and when required by Management
  • Organising events and meetings to ensure the Advocacy Plan is active and progressing
  • Working with the Officer to develop and maintain document control for the Team
  1. Research & Campaigns Tasks – Support the Deputy Director – Policy & Advocacy in providing the evidentiary basis for TIPNG Campaigns, by:
    • Implementing the Advocacy Plan
    • Conducting analysis of existing research literature and produce briefs for campaigns
    • Reviewing legislation and policy documents to produce briefs for campaigns
    • Developing campaigns with clear objectives based on research and TIPNG Strategy
    • Monitoring the impact of TIPNG research and campaigns to improve future interventions
    • Maintain Policy and Advocacy document library for use by colleagues
    • Keep colleagues informed of positionson issues and campaigns
    • Maintain record of positions on issues and campaigns
  1. Liaison Tasks – Coordinate work within TIPNG to strengthen advocacy outside the organisation
    • Responsible for liaising with Communications Team on Campaigns
    • Ensure the Team is consistently using key messages from the Communications Plan and the Advocacy Plan in Campaigns and team activities
    • Consult within TIPNG so as to share TIPNG’s position on campaigns & relevant issues and to represent the organisation in forums
    • Support engagement with stakeholders, for activities external to the Team
  • Provide relevant content for dissemination to stakeholders
  1. As and when required
    • Attend meetings on behalf of Deputy Director – Policy and Advocacy
    • Assist counterpart TIPNG Core and Programme Teams with specified tasks and activities
    • Assist TIPNG Board and Management with specified tasks and activities

Skills required

  • Demonstrable experience and achievements working in and advocating towards multi-stakeholder platforms and processes
  • Experience in stakeholder mapping and strategizing according to policy objectives of different projects
  • Experience in policy analysis, lobby and advocacy working with sub-national, national, regional and global dimensions
  • Good understanding of political affairs and international institutions dynamics Papua New Guinea and the Asia Pacific region
  • Ability to quickly understand and absorb new topics, issues and disciplines and distil relevant advocacy strategies from them
  • Ability to write clear and concise technical briefs and to quickly understand and absorb new topics, issues and disciplines and distil relevant advocacy strategies from them
  • Proven ability of multitasking and producing quality results within tight deadlines and under pressure
  • Excellent communication and project management skills; team player and facilitator
  • Analytical, decision making and presentation skills with excellent command of written and spoken English
  • Time management and organisational skills with experience working in a not-for-profit organization
  • Good computer proficiency and knowledge MS Office Suite

APPLICATION CLOSE: Friday 20 September 2019, 5:00pm

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COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Apply now!

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER

The Communications Officer is responsible for the effective researching, writing, editing and publishing information of Transparency International PNG’s work.

Generic Responsibilities

  • Ensure adherence to TIPNG policies and guidelines
  • Prepare and develop reports as required by management
  • Ensure proper filing of documents – online and offline
  • Live and breathe the values of TIPNG within and outside of the organization and throughout all work carried out on behalf of the organization

Specific Responsibilities 

  1.     Strategic Communications
  • Develop, implement and monitor and review TIPNG’s Communications Plan
  • ​Provide creative, editorial and operational support for communications projects
  • ​Provide creative, editorial and operational communications support for TIPNG projects and programs
  • Prepare communication and media promotion budget, and track expenditure
  • Prepare a work plan, implement and track progress
  • Draft media and stakeholder briefings
  • Work with the Policy & Advocacy Team to develop campaigns
  • Develop content ideas for internal and external communications including publications, press releases, website content, annual reports, speeches, and other marketing material in line with TIPNG’s brand guide and Strategy
  1.  Media Relations 
  1. Develop and maintain a strong working relationship with the Media and maintain a media database
  2. Monitor media coverage of interest to TIPNG and collate analytics and metrics
  3. Respond to media inquiries and arrange interviews on behalf of TIPNG
  4. In consultation with program staff, prepare briefs for programs involved in media interviews
  5. Identify potential issues TIPNG should respond to
  6. Draft and disseminate media releases
  1. Website Maintenance
  • Manage and maintain the TIPNG’s website
  • Use Google Analytics (or similar) to produce reports on referrals to the TIPNG website and conversions attributable to social content and provide regular internal reports
  • Attain key performance indicators such as reducing the website bounce rate, etc, and provide regular internal reports. 
  1.     Branding & Marketing
  • Support the development, promotion and organisation of TIPNG’s seminars and events
  • Seek opportunities to enhance the reputation of the brand, and coordinate publicity events as required.
  • Ensure consistency and quality across all creative inputs on TIPNG’s communications and publications.
  1. Publications Development
  • Draft success/impact stories of TIPNG’s work for publication and dissemination
  • Design Annual Report for TIPNG
  • Design Quarterly Newsletters for TIPNG
  • Annually review and update brochures and information material on TIPNG

SKILLS & REQUIREMENTS

  • Be exceptionally well organized, flexible and have the ability and multi-task
  • Must have experience of working effectively underpressure, to tight deadlines, for long hours, whilst retaining good humor
  • Be computer literate, able to use MS Office Suite
  • Have a relevant qualification in Arts, Humanities or Communications
  • Have experience in producing high quality publicity materials, and to design and edit web pages
  • Be a team player, willing to support team members in their roles, and tobe able to seek support from them when you need it
  • Be innovative, thorough and responsive to change in the dynamic environment in which TIPNG works
  • Have some experience in website content management and maintenance
  • Must be highly flexible
  • Must have some project management experience
  • Must have good problem solving and decision making skills
  • Must have exceptional networking skills
  • Must be able to establish firm and reliable contacts in various media outlets
  • Must be highly detail oriented

APPLICATION CLOSE: FRIDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2019, 5:00PM

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