By REBECCA KUKU
THE Public Accounts Committee has the “ultimate power” to inquire into public entities as it is “an extension” of Parliament, according to Acting Auditor-General Gordon Kega.
Kega told The National yesterday, after the committee-sanctioned commission of inquiry into the Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (KPHL) had to be called off, that it was a State-owned entity even though it operated as a business.
“Public money was used to set up KPHL, so it is a state entity.
“Although they operate as a private entity they are still owned by the state.”
KPHL lawyers, on behalf of the board chairman and managing director, late on Monday requested in a letter to committee chairman Sir John Pundari that the inquiry be postponed for 14 days because “key persons named in the summons” were out of the country.
It will now be held on Nov 5.
Kega said in his capacity as the auditor-general, he could go and audit KPHL because it was a state-owned entity.
“My audit reports are given to the Parliament.
“The Speaker then gives the reports to the Public Accounts Committee for deliberation before being presented to Parliament or to the National Executive Council,” he said.
“So the public accounts committee has the ultimate power to inquire into KPHL.”
The inquiry into KPHL is in relation to information sought on the aggravated income generated from the 500-plus shipments made since the start of the PNG LNG project and the first shipment in May 2014.
Sir John Pundari said it was the first time during his five terms in Parliament to see public servants unable to attend a Commission of Inquiry on a date set by the committee.
“Well I guess because they are occupying important offices, they have got other business to attend to on the date set by the committee for the Commission of Inquiry,” he said.
The committee had asked for KPHL to provide information on:
- How much had been made so far in the export of Liquefied Natural Gas;
- how much of that money had been given to the State and landowners;
- how much had been given to the provincial government of the affected areas for development and infrastructure; and,
- How much was used for KPHL’s operational cost
Sir John at an earlier press conference said that the people had the right to know how much was made from the shipment of LNG and where that money was.