PM: Fight against graft will go on

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 5th September, 2012

PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill is confident Papua New Guinea’s ranking on the global corruption index will improve in the near future.
O’Neill said this while noting comments from the United Nation’s Corruption Index ranking as well comments made by former Lae MP Bart Philemon and former Usino-Bundi MP Peter Yama.
In the United Nations index, PNG is ranked 154th out of 180 nations on its corruption scale, prompting some commentators to suggest the government was not doing enough to fight corruption.
In an address to the Institute of National Affairs (INA) last Friday, Philemon said urgent action needed to be taken because corruption had now penetrated the fabric of society.
“The fight (against corruption) must begin at the top, from the Prime Minister down,” Philemon was quoted as telling INA.
The Post-Courier reported Yama as challenging O’Neill on how far he was willing to take the fight against corruption.
Yama suggested in the news article that corruption was everywhere in the public and private sector, making life difficult for investors and businessmen.
Noting their comments, O’Neill said the government was moving in the right direction in this fight.
“It is no secret that corruption, in all its shape and form, has become systemic and endemic in our country.
“Both Philemon and Yama have been in Parliament and in government and know that,” he said.
“Both men have held positions of influence in government in their time and had an opportunity to contribute to help stem the tide of corruption.
“It’s one thing to speak and rumble on in the media on the issue, and quite another to actually step forward and take action.”
O’Neill said when he was appointed prime minister on Aug 2, 2011, he listed the fight against corruption as one of his priorities, and set up the Sweep Task Force to clean up the public sector.
“It is one of the first concrete steps I took as leader of government,” he said.
“The work of Sweep is ongoing, with chairman Sam Koim this week announcing more arrests of individuals allegedly involved in corruption involving the misappropriation of millions of kina.”
When O’Neill was re-elected soon after the 2012 general election, one of the first decisions of his cabinet was to approve the establishment of the National Anti Corruption Strategy Task Force (NACSTF).
The primary role of this task force (NACSTF) will be to implement the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (2010-2030), which was developed after PNG ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in May, 2007.
“The fight against corruption remains a top priority for this government. We are taking action on our promise to the people – that we will act to prevent corruption happening, or attack it wherever it occurs in our community,” he said.
O’Neill said the task force would operate within the framework outlined by the National Anti-Corruption strategy, which won the backing of UN representatives who reviewed it early this year.
“I want to assure Yama, as I know Philemon will be aware, that as a government, we are doing all that is necessary to fight and eradicate corruption in our society.
“I am confident that in time, our efforts will be recognised, and the benefits of our work felt in the community,” he said.