The National – Thursday, February 17, 2011
By SAMUEL RAITANO
A COMPANY has taken the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and its managing director, Sylvester Pokajam, to court for allegedly breaching a technical services agreement.
Ecoez PNG Ltd had sued NFA and its boss for non-payment of funds as agreed in 2008 for technical assistance in the development of a marine aquarium project.
NFA rebutted the claim, stating that the agreement was signed between Ecoez Incorporated Ltd, which was a foreign company that had not registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) by law to engage in business, while Ecoez PNG Ltd was a separate entity that was not party to the agreement and therefore had no right to pursue the matter in court.
NFA also claimed that Ecoez Incorporated had registered with IPA on Jan 11, only after the issue became a court matter.
Lawyers for Ecoez PNG Ltd, however, brushed aside the claim, questioning NFA for not raising the issue of registration during the signing of the agreement in 2008, given the fact that NFA had been aware of the error and had instead signed the flawed agreement.
It was also pointed out that Pokajam had said K3.5 million would be forked out annually by NFA for the project implementation while the chairman of NFA board had stated the figure to be K5 million.
The counsel said NFA was now querying the legality of Ecoez’s participation in the project while trying to evade the commitment required by the agreement it had signed.
It was also pointed out that NFA had had the capacity and legal advice in place to show that Ecoez Incorporated Ltd was not registered to engage in business in the country, but it had obviously kept the issue undisclosed, evidently to use it to gag Ecoez while covering up on its failure to meet its end of the agreement.
NFA, however, was adamant that it had paid all moneys as per the agreement and would not be forced to pay “extra” to a company which had not been registered with IPA all the while until very late.
A ruling on the matter is due next week.