State will not pay for negligence

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 9, 2011

THE state will no longer be held accountable for public servants who breached their mandated roles and responsibilities in the community, Solicitor-General Neville Devete says. 
He said for too long the state had been forced to pay millions of kina as claims to compensate for the unruly behaviour of particular individuals. 
“There has been instability where eight solicitors-general have been in office over the past 10 years,” he said.
Devete said, for the past 18 months, his office had been rolling out awareness programmes in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, Mt Hagen, Madang, Mendi and Kimbe to address this.
He said, mostly, the negligence of government agencies in providing instructions or information to the office had held the state responsible over claims for the past years. 
“We are concerned about police brutality, among others, where the state pays millions of kina.”
He said 37% of all court claims from March last year came from the Royal PNG Constabulary. 
“Servants of the state who go out of bounds in their roles and responsibility will start to fork out money from their own pockets,” he said.
“Money that should be used for viable services such as aid posts, roads and bridges have been relegated somewhere else.
“We are rebuilding, regrouping with support shown by the Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet and department secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe,” he said.
He said the primary role of the solicitor-general’s office was to defend the state against claims filed for or against it.
The National was told that there were 30 lawyers practising in the office.
It is understood that a new office has been opened in Rabaul in East New Britain to serve the New Guinea Islands region.