PM orders probe into climate change office

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PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare said a formal investigation has been established to review all aspects of policy, financial and human resources in the Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability (OCCES).
He said this formal investigation was under the leadership of the acting secretary for the Department of Personnel Management supported by the Central agencies to review all aspects of the OCCES.
The outcome of the policy review will provide a sound basis for restoring credibility to the work of OCCES and allow Government to move forward quickly to play an important role in the critical Copenhagen climate change talks later this year.
“Until these reviews are completed and decisions are made by Cabinet regarding appropriate action, it is inappropriate for me to respond to specific allegations made by the leader of the Opposition,” the prime minister said.
Sir Michael made the statement to Parliament in response to allegations of impropriety raised by both Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta and Eastern Highlands Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith.
Sir Michael said when it came to climate change finance, neither domestic stakeholders nor the international community would permit all climate change funds to be paid to consolidated revenues as the leader of the Opposition had proposed along with certain governors.
“This is a flawed and ill-conceived proposal that will only lead to failure,” he said.
The Prime Minister said a significant portion of such funds would legally belong to the people of PNG.
For example, forest resources belonged to the people, not the Government, he said.
“How could my government try to capture 100% of the revenues when we have no legal basis over the forests or ability to control decisions related to their use?”
He said the international community would never allow climate change funds to be gobbled up totally by the government bureaucracy with limited transparency and accountability.
“Following many other precedents within our legal structure for engagement with the private sector, only associated income taxes and or royalties will likely be paid into consolidated revenues.
“Therefore, with this regard to managing the financial requirements associated with adaptation and mitigation needs, my government has requested that an independent climate change trust be
established,” Sir Michael said.