Protect APEC assets: PNG leadership watchdog

Leaders attend the retreat session of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea November 18, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

PORT MORESBY,23 NOVEMBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – Leadership watchdog, the Ombudsman Commission, has instructed all Papua New Guinea overnment agencies to protect assets acquired for APEC Leaders’ Summit which ended last week.

This means that these assets, which include executive motor vehicles, could not be disposed of without the watchdog’s approval.

Chief Ombudsman Michael Dick, Ombudsman Richard Pagen and Ombudsman Kevin Kepore said in a statement that they had served the direction notices to all relevant agencies that dealt with the 2018 APEC Summit.

“The Ombudsman Commission has issued a direction under section 27(4) of the Constitution to protect all assets that Papua New Guinea government acquired for the hosting of the 2018 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Papua New Guinea,” they said.

The direction was issued on Monday, 19 November and was served to executives, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, APEC 2018 Papua New Guinea Coordination Authority chief executive Chris Hawkins, Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari, Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan and the acting chairman of the Central Supply and Tenders Board.

Dick and  Pagen said that the purpose of the constitutional direction was to ensure that before these assets were dealt with, all relevant laws, policies and guidelines for dealing with these assets are complied with.

They said requirements under the Public Finance (Management) Act 1995 and the Public Finance (Management) Act 2016 must be complied with unless the commission advised otherwise.

“The Ombudsman Commission requests for collective cooperation as the direction is not intended to discredit the Government’s hosting of the APEC meetings held in Papua New Guinea but to protect and preserve the integrity of leaders who were involved in this prestigious event,” Dick and Pagen said.

They said this as APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko and Finance Minisster James Marape announced that the 40 Maserati executive vehicles, subject of public and world criticisms, would be sold publicly and the proceeds recouped by the National Government.

They said that the public tender processes would be followed.