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TIPNG Signs 5-year MoU with UPNG for Legal Interns

Monday 12th October 2020, Port Moresby – Sharing of resources between partners is a vital strategy in the fight against corruption as stated by Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) at the signing of a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) School of Law on Monday 12th October in Port Moresby.

 

The MoU between the two organisations will enable the continuation of TIPNG’s annual Legal Internship Program (LIP) which started in 2018 and is now currently recruiting its 4th batch of students from the UPNG School of Law to be interns at TIPNG under the Anti-Corruption Help Desk (AnCoHD) Program.

“TIPNG has been fortunate over the last 3 years to have 11 students from the UPNG School of Law learn on the job with us as we seek to empower Papua New Guineans to take action against corruption,” said TIPNG Chief Executive Officer Arianne Kassman.

“This partnership enables Law Students at UPNG to receive workplace experience with the country’s leading anti-corruption CSO and offers those few that are selected the unique opportunity to apply their legal skills to ensure justice for victims and witnesses of corruption in PNG.”

TIPNG’s AnCoHD Program offers free legal advice to Papua New Guineans that wish to report cases of corrup

 

tion, specifically where a person in a position of authority, abuses their position for personal gain. The AnCoHD has a toll-free number 180 6000 that can be called from Digicel, Bmobile & Telikom all across the country by those who want assistance with an issue of c

orruption. The LIP interns will also assist with TIPNG’s other Policy, Advocacy, Communications, Events and Administrative duties.

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TIPNG NIS ASSESSMENT PAVING THE WAY FOR ICAC

In anticipation of the establishment of a PNG Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is now undertaking a National Integrity Systems Assessment (NISA).

As a precursor to a fully functioning PNG ICAC, the NISA will undertake a review of internal policies within public offices in order to identify recommendations, which would allow for more streamlined implementation of anti-corruption strategies across the three arms of PNG Government. As the first of two phases in TIPNG’s new Promoting Integrity and Anti-corruption Strategies (PAIS) project, the NISA will be focused on;

  • Assessing whether there has been any progress made over time with regards to the country’s integrity systems,
  • Assessing whether there has been any progress made over time with regards to the country’s integrity systems,
  • Identifying specific changes (both positive and negative) which have occurred since the full NIS report was published in 2003,
  • And identifying recommendations and advocacy priorities for improving the country’s integrity systems.

An induction workshop hosted by TIPNG at the Lamana Hotel today, was the first step towards solidifying a partnership with government and statutory agencies. The event was attended by more than 10 representatives from different government agencies including European Union Ambassador Jernej Videtic, Department of Justice and Attorney General Secretary Dr Eric Kwa and TIPNG founding director, Richard Kassman.

Mr Kassman, during the event today highlighted the importance of strong collaboration between all stakeholders as critical towards achieving more effective and sustainable outcomes.

“TIPNG remains very optimistic about the possibility of a fully empowered PNG ICAC in the near future. It has been a recommendation which we, as an organization, have been advocating for the better part of the last 23 years,” said Mr Kassman.

“However, we are also fully aware that an effective ICAC cannot function in isolation. Raising the integrity of governance in PNG has to be a collaborative effort. And our current joint efforts with other government agencies through the NISA and the PAIS Project as a whole, are targeted at mitigating this risk.”

“The overall objective of the PAIS Project is to strengthen public trust in state agencies. The project will achieve this by ensuring that there are formal pathways for addressing corruption both internally, within themselves, as well as externally, through the ICAC, once it is brought fully online,” He said.

With funding from the European Union, the entire project has been developed to include heavy consultation with agencies in areas of government including the; Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Public Prosecutor, Law Enforcement Agencies, Electoral Management Agency, Ombudsman, Supreme Audit Agency, Anti-Corruption Agency, Political Parties, Media, Civil Society and businesses.

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Our First PAIS Project Newsletter out now!

Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) is excited to inform everyone about its new project: Promoting Anti-Corruption & Integrity Strategies (PAIS). We are also grateful for the support of the European Union.

About the Project: As the name suggests, the PAIS Project will work with state agencies to enhance their capacity to address corruption complaints both internally and externally. The PAIS Project believes that when frameworks and actual practice by agencies to address corruption are working well, it enhances the agency’s reputation and strengthens public trust in that agency.

Building on from the past: The last NISA for Papua New Guinea was done in 2003. In this report, it was observed that there were adequate anti-corruption laws available in Papua New Guinea (Sections 87, 88, 92 and 97 of the Criminal Code refer to fraud, undue influence, tendering and bribery). The weakness however was in the effective implementation and policing of these laws. A related weakness was that organizations entrusted to fight corruption such as the Ombudsman Commission had not been given enough ‘teeth’ to deter corrupt practices.

The PAIS Project will revamp the NIS Assessment survey tool and evaluate key public institutions and non-state actors in Papua New Guinea’s governance system with regard to their overall capacity, internal governance systems and procedures and role in the overall integrity system.

Progress:

• There will be an Integrity Seminar held in September 2020 to invite agencies and organisations to participate in PAIS.

• Following the Integrity Seminar will be an Integrity Summit which is scheduled to be held in February 2021 to present the NIS assessment findings.

You and PAIS: Why should the PAIS Project matter to you? Through the PAIS Project, agencies in Papua New Guinea will have effective strategies in place to address corruption and other issues of abuse of power. In turn, citizens will be more empowered to access these systems to report corruption.

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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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