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Time to establish an independent anti-corruption commission in Papua New Guinea

TI report also cites the need for an Ombudsman with teeth and a more active role for civil society in monitoring corruption

Papua New Guinea needs an independent commission against corruption says a report published globally today by Transparency International (TI), the global non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption.

The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - Papua New Guinea 2003 analyses the strengths and weaknesses in Papua New Guinea's governance system, including the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It is a comprehensive analysis of the causes and consequences of corruption in Papua New Guinea, presenting the government, civil society, and donor agencies with a clear programme for action.

According to the report's authors, Professor Albert Mellam and Danny Aloi of the University of Papua New Guinea, "corruption is endemic and happens at all levels of government and public sector organizations." The report also cites evidence of corruption in the private sector.

The report argues for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption commission and a strengthened role for the robust Ombudsman should be strengthened. The report also calls for a need to increase role of civil society in exerting public pressure on leaders, in particular through the screening of political candidates, engagement in the procurement process (e.g. on the supply and tenders board), and seeking to have the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council prepare a bi-annual report card on the government's performance. The interest and enthusiasm of the general public in the fight against corruption should be strengthened and maintained through media campaigns, the involvement of NGOs in awareness campaigns and public consultations with various sectors of society. This should also be complemented by ensuring that those found guilty of corruption are prosecuted.

The authors of the report are particularly critical of the political process, observing that there is a widespread misconception that politics is a means to attaining personal wealth. Many politicians begin their political careers as ordinary former public servants and "graduate" to becoming businesspeople by the time they leave politics. This has been exacerbated by the fact that few members of parliament are returned in subsequent elections and therefore there is a temptation to accumulate wealth quickly rather than provide services for their electorates.

Mellam and Alloi note that most medium-scale companies in PNG are owned or partly owned by politicians or former politicians. They observe that one of the reasons for this is that PNG has such a weak capital base that it is very hard for PNG business people to get established through ordinary channels. Another reason is that PNG still has a relatively weak political system that has no ideologies or "sign posts" for politicians, making it easier for them to be led astray.

The authors outline the problems of State Owned Enterprises and the failure of the privatisation process in Papua New Guinea. This has meant that these organisations are governed by political considerations rather than business principles. It has also led to nepotism and corruption in the appointment of boards and chief executives, with little or no regard for relevant experience or training that would equip managers to run large and complex business enterprises.
The report says that the rent-seeking activities of a corrupt few in Papua New Guinean society has seen the rise of a very small wealthy elite. This has been at the expense of the maintenance of basic infrastructure and the provision of essential services that benefit the majority of the population.

The report, however, also cites welcome developments in recent years, including the establishment of Transparency International Papua New Guinea and a campaign against corruption run by the Media Council. Corruption is now openly discussed by non-governmental organisations and church groups, and citizens are becoming increasingly involved in anti-corruption efforts.

The report was prepared by Professor Albert Mellam and Mr Danny Aloi of the University of Papua New Guinea and was commissioned by the TI Centre for Innovation and Research and managed by the Teesside Business School (UK). The study was prepared under the auspices of the Institute of National Affairs and its Director, Mike Manning, assisted in its preparation. The process involved widespread consultation within PNG, which culminated in a focus group meeting to which government officials, the private sector and civil society were invited to comment on the draft. Funding for the report came from the UK Government's Department for International Development.

This report is the latest in a series of TI country study reports on national integrity systems. Those for Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, Ghana, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Netherlands, Senegal, Republic of Korea, Trinidad and Tobago were published in 2001 and a report on Zambia was published earlier this year.

Upcoming country studies will include: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Dominica Gambia, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & Grenadines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - Papua New Guinea 2003 and other TI country study reports can be downloaded at: http://www.transparency.org/

Note for Editors:

The concept of the National Integrity System (the system of governance by which a society defends its values) was first developed by TI in 1994. This holistic approach to containing corruption embraces the various arms of government and includes the private sector, civil society and the trade unions, and has been widely adopted by development agencies and anti-corruption strategists. It builds on reform efforts undertaken by the Australian Federal Government in the state of Queensland (see TI Source Book 2000 - Confronting Corruption: the Elements of a National Integrity System by Jeremy Pope, http://www.transparency.org/).


For any press enquiries please contact

Port Moresby:
Mike Manning, Institute for National Affairs
Tel: + 675 3211045
Email: inapng@daltron.com.pg

Berlin:
Jeff Lovitt
Tel: +49-30-3438 2045
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
Email: press@transparency.org