6 Jun 2006

High level investigation into Papua New Guinea's Justice Department over outsourcing

12:50 pm on 6 June 2006

The contracting out of legal work by Papua New Guinea's Justice Department is to be investigated after millions of dollars were paid out to private firms last year.

The Justice Minister, Bire Kimisopa, announced the investigation into his own department after a total of 10.45 million U.S. dollars was paid out to private law firms last year.

Our correspondent, Alex Rheeney, says the Justice department is arguing that it doesn't have the capacity to be able to deal with the high number of claims brought against the state recently.

But, he says there are several areas of concern, the first being the formula used for deciding the level of payments to private firms which MPs have called excessive.

"There has also been allegations within the Justice Department that there are a number of officials as well, within the Finance and Treasury department here in Port Moresby, who are working, who are plotting to charge the state a high fee and in the end, get some sort of commission after the payment is made."

Alex Rheeney says it's not known when the investigation will be completed but Mr Kimisopa has put in a submission to cabinet for approval which shows he's serious about dealing with the issue.