18 May 2007

Fight against corruption looms as PNG election issue

12:46 pm on 18 May 2007

The fight against corruption within the Papua New Guinea public service is looming as a major issue for the country's aspiring politicians as they prepare for elections from June 30th.

Corruption is now believed to have become systemic and is costing PNG hundreds of millions of kina a year.

Don Wiseman reports from Port Moresby.

"The Parliamentary public accounts committee's latest report put the likely level of money siphoned from the public purse at up to five hundred million kina annually. A leading politician I spoke with claimed a billion kina a year is being lost. The anti corruption agency, Transparency International PNG, suggests these high levels of corruption are not new but what has previously been hidden is now out in the open. The agency's secretary, Richard Kassman says the public money is mostly being taken in a systematic process. Something that has a stronger political inclination or indeed grand corruption where they are operating on and in cahoots with maybe political masters, government people or unscrupulous foreign business concerns. Meanwhile an enquiry into allegations of corrupt activities in the department of finance, which Mr Kassman says has uncovered many instances of corruption is reportedly being shut down by the government before its work is complete."