KPHL expected to comply, says State Solicitor


THE State Solicitor has made it clear that Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (KPHL) is subject to scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and it is expected to comply with PAC inquiries which is scheduled to start today.
The State Solicitor said this in response to a legal opinion sought by PAC over ongoing defiance by KPHL to comply with an inquiry request by PAC on the operations of the national oil and gas company.
Acting State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea in his response to a legal opinion copied to Prime Minister James Marape, Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven, Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari and Secretary for the Department of Justice and Attorney-General clarified that KPHL was subject to scrutiny by PAC.
“There were several newspaper articles in regard to the contentious issue of whether KPHL is subject to public scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee as a Permanent Parliamentary Committee,” Rolpagarea said.
“The PAC position is that KPHL and other state-owned enterprises which deal with public funds and properties regardless of whatever nature, form and shape they take, need to be accountable and transparent in order to ensure that public funds are used for the benefit of the public in accordance with the approved budget and annual performance plans.
“The chairman of the board of KPHL on the other end is of the view that KPHL is not subject to scrutiny of the PAC as KPHL does not receive budgetary allocations from the national budget.
“Hence, KPHL finances and books do not qualify as public accounts of the state or public monies and property of the state.”
Rolpagarea said in light of the above opposing views, the chairman of PAC Sir John Pundari requested urgent legal advice prior to PAC progressing the inquiry into KPHL.
“The questions of whether or not KPHL is subject to scrutiny of the PAC, the State’s interest in petroleum projects by KPHL constitutes property of PNG and KPHL is therefore subject to scrutiny of the PAC as it holds public money and property (petroleum interest) as State nominee company on behalf of the state,” the acting state solicitor said.
He said the mandate of PAC was established under Section 215 of the Constitution and Section 216 (1) of the Constitution set out the primary function of PAC which was to examine and report to Parliament on public accounts of PNG and on the control of and on transactions with or concerning public monies and properties of PNG.

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