The National, Monday, May 16, 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
THE appointment of Hamish Sharp as a member to the National Maritime Safety Authority board and his association with the prime minister and several ministers has raised questions on the floor of parliament.
Moresby Northwest MP Sir Mekere Morauta, during question time, asked acting Prime Minister Sam Abal if Sharp, who owned the Star Shipping and his association, with the prime minister, were appropriate and if it was a conflict of interest.
Sir Mekere said the Ombudsman Commission, which investigated the appointment, found a series of irregularities and made a specific recommendation to the transport minister to “review the appointment of Hamish Sharp as a member to the NMSA board on the basis of Sharp having a real conflict of interest on matters discussed in board meetings contrary to section 13(1) of the NMSA Act”.
He said since 2007, the opposition had asked the government in parliament to answer numerous questions about conflicts of interest and impropriety involving the former NMSA chairman and his business relationship with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and other ministers serving in the government.
“Acting prime minister, in light of the Ombudsman Commission report, why is it that your government earlier this year re-appointed Sharp to the NMSA board?
“Why have none of the other recommendations of the Ombudsman Commission report been carried out by the government?” he asked.
Sir Mekere also asked why none of their questions regarding Sharp and the appointment were not satisfactorily answered.
He said Sharp’s conduct and his appointment was the subject of an investigation by the Ombudsman Commission.
He said a report had been tabled in parliament last year.
Sir Mekere said the Ombudsman Commission observed that “there has been a tendency to overlook the requirements of the relevant provisions of the NMSA Act both by the minister for transport and the chairman of the NMSA in their leadership”.
Abal responded by saying that he would find out and prepare a report on it later.