The passing of the organic law on Independent Commission against Corruption (Icac) and its establishment is widely applauded by international development partners along with the PNG watchdog, Transparency International PNG (TIPNG).
The Government, in its unanimous voting of the Icac Bill, steadfastly designated the commitment of the regime to a campaign against corruption on top of the development agendas.
“Evil triumph when good men do nothing,” a reflective statement by Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke.
This catch phrase points that unless corruption is checked and plaided, it will poison our systems and erode standards.
The commission is the pillar of hope for PNG to empower people, take action against corruption and exert to protect the integrity of the people, institutions and the nation.
An adaptation from TIPNG, the key function of the commission would be to prevent and reduce corruption through research and development, investigate and prosecute corrupt conduct and to arrest a person of corrupt bearing.
The function of the commission will not intersect or overlap the roles of other constitutional offices such as the Ombudsman Commission (OC), police and office of public prosecutor.
Icac expands the range and jurisdiction of combating corruption while the OC only investigate leaders under the leadership code.
The OC does not have the authority to arrest and prosecute, conversely, Icac is endowed to investigate, arrest and prosecute persons of fraudulent demeanour in the society.
Icac focus is on official corruption and accrual of unexplained affluence and fortune.
One of the distinctive features of Icac is that its administration of corruption is constricted and compressed with minimal or zilch chances of appeal to charges laid and undeniably the commission is a colossal monster of its own.
The real challenge of the commission will be to ensure the regulations and conventions that guide the commission must work.
The Icac must be adequately funded, resourced, and staffed to be effective and tenaciously live up to its purpose.
Citizens are now enabled and protected by the Whistleblower Act 2020 to come forward and report corruption.
The government is extolled for its solemnity in fighting corruption.
The onus is now on the responsible authorities to come up with a national awareness strategy to educate and inform the civil society on the processes and procedures of reporting corruption.
Moored on the 2018 PNG Apec theme “Embracing Digitalisation with Inclusiveness in Development” is the game changer in the expedition for making PNG a rich black nation in the world by 2030.
A design of an integrated electronic system of reporting and governing corruption in real time will amplify the prospect to report and accelerate foreseen outcomes of regulatory quality, hence radically improving our ratings in the World Corruption Index.
David Kawage Bitno,