By SAMUEL BARIASI
PRIME Minister James Marape yesterday vowed to introduce major reform policies and legislation this year to address the country’s continuing low ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
It will include the establishment of the long-awaited Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the Whistleblowers Act.
“I announced when I first took office (in May 2019) that ICAC and Whistleblowers Act would be key vessels in reforming our country for the better,” he said.
“The 2020 parliamentary year will be filled with reform legislations that we will bring in.”
According to Transparency International PNG (TIPNG) chairman Peter Aitsi, PNG had shown “little improvement” in its ranking, scoring 28 out 100 and ranked 137 out of 180 countries surveyed.
The CPI measures public sector corruption including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain and nepotism in the civil service.
A higher score indicates better public perception. New Zealand, Denmark and Finland are the least corrupt nations, while Somalia, Sudan and Syria and in the bottom three on the list.
Marape yesterday said ICAC and the Whistleblowers Act had been around for some time and blamed past governments of doing little to have them set up.
He urged Papua New Guineans to report corrupt practices they come across, instead of just talking about it.
“Our legislative structure has provisions for fighting corruption but (people) haven’t been reporting corruption,” he said.
“It is about time we become an army of watchmen on corruption, instead of just talking about it and being a hero on Facebook.
“We should step away from our comfort zones and take the necessary steps to report corruption to relevant authorities.”
Marape said the Whistleblowers Act would protect those who reported corruption, ensuring that those implicated were prosecuted (and) convicted.
“Some people are often maliciously and unfairly labelled as corrupt, so the Act will be balanced.
“It will protect those identifying corruption and also prosecute those who accuse people of corruption,” Marape said.
Aitsi said TIPNG wanted the Government to establish ICAC.
He said PNG had taken steps to address corruption, such as signing global anti-corruption initiatives unlike other countries.
“Having an independent anti-corruption agency like ICAC is not only essential in boosting the effectiveness of NACS (National Anti-Corruption Strategy) but will also allow the effective implementation of the national budget by preventing wastage through corrupt activities.”
He said recent reports had revealed that billions of kina in government revenue had been lost because of corruption.
By SAMUEL BARIASI