A call by the Lands Minister to rightly make the inquiry into the ‘Manumanu Land Deal’ a priority has been welcomed by Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) along with the advice that the Department of Lands and Physical has already provided information to the delayed Administrative Inquiry.
Lands Minister, Justin Tkatchenko, when speaking to the media last week on his mission to rid his Department of corruption, was reported to have advised that the Administrative Inquiry’s findings “will be handed to the National Executive Council (NEC) in the next couple of weeks. From the findings, the NEC will make any necessary directions”.
In March 2017, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, after being questioned in Parliament on the State’s purchase of land for a naval base in Manumanu, Central Province, sidelined two Ministers, William Duma and Dr. Fabian Pok, along with the following departmental heads and executives; the Secretaries for Defense, and State Enterprises, the Managing Directors of Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL) and Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH). He then called for an Administrative Inquiry to be done within 4 weeks as he said the matter “has been of public interest” and “must be treated in a fair and transparent manner”.
However, months later, in early August 2017, O’Neill reappointed the two Ministers to cabinet portfolios when it was not clear that the Inquiry had commenced, let alone given its findings. For this matter, TIPNG is calling on the Prime Minister to stand by the words attributed to him and await the findings of the inquiry.
“Mr. Tkatchenko has done well, reminding the Prime Minister of his promise to investigate the Manumanu Land Deal,” said Chairman of TIPNG, Lawrence Stephens.
“Mr. O’Neill, by reappointing the two Ministers, before the Administrative Inquiry is completed, appears to have skipped some of the basic principles of good governance.
“Now that it is confirmed that investigations are underway, it seems even more important that individuals being investigated should not hold any position that would appear likely to allow them to have influence over individuals who may be assisting the investigations.
“Mr O’Neill took appropriate action when the deal was exposed and until the Inquiry has outcomes, TIPNG has been encouraging the Prime Minister to maintain the suspensions.
“TIPNG, as a local anti-corruption NGO, is acting on this issue on behalf of all Papua New Guineans who demand accountability from leaders and expect justice to run its course,” Stephens said.
“It is in this regard that we call on Mr. O’Neill to deliver on his promises and deliver the findings of the Inquiry into the Manumanu Land Deal, which the Lands Minister has apparently assured us will be with the NEC in the next couple of weeks.”
(William Duma, left, and Dr. Fabian Pok)