Friday, November 21, 2014

THE INCOMPLETE BUDGET - Opposition outlines flaws in 2015 Budget


By DR ALAN MARAT MP

In Tuesday’s Budget Session, which was supposed to commence at 2pm, Members of Parliament were kept waiting in the chamber until 4pm. Finance Minister, Tari-Pori MP, Hon. James Marape, followed by the Treasury Minister, Hon. Patrick Pruaitch, walked in. Thereafter the Speaker entered and Parliament commenced meeting.

When the Treasurer started delivering his Budget Speech, the Opposition Members had not yet received any budget documentation, despite the speech being on ‘the budget’ ( money plan) for 2015. A little while later copies of the Treasurer’s budget speech were handed out followed by Volume 1 of the Budget documentation (which is on Economic and Development Policies), and a bundle of four Appropriation Bills. Shortly after copies of Volume 2A, 2B and 2C (which are on the 2015 Budget Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for National Government Departments), and 2D (which is on the 2015 Budget Estimates for Statutory Authorities Provincial Governments Debt Services and Trust Accounts).

One very important note I would like to point out is that after the fourth paragraph on Page 4 of the Treasurers 34 page printed Budget Speech, the Treasurer veered off deliberately and talked about the K3 Billion UBS loan. This was not in the Treasurers written budget speech.

‘Page 4 of the 34 page Budget Speech document, this paragraph was deliberately added in after Paragraph 4;

“Mr Speaker as you will recall that earlier in the year the opportunity to purchase oil search shares arose and the O’Neill-Dion government made a decision to purchase a 10.1% share in the Oil shares as part of the 2014 supplement and abided in accordance with section 209 of the constitution we have appropriated for interest payments anticipated for in the next month National petroleum Company in Papua New Guinea that will refinance this transaction and take ownership of the shares”

The Opposition Leader, Hon. Belden Norman Namah, then commenced adjourning debate on each bill respectively until the last Bill when he raised the issue of the failure of the government to issue Volume 3 of the Budget Books in parliament which would complete presentation of the 2015 National Budget/Money Plan.

Mr Namah rightly refused to move the motion to adjourn debate on the last Bill rendering the presentation of ‘a budget’ incomplete. This ensued into an exchange between the speaker and the Opposition Leader, Mr Namah insisting on viewing the third volume before moving the motion to adjourn debate stating that this is setting a bad precedence in which it is tradition for the Complete Budget documentation to be presented in Parliament.

The Speaker insisted also that since the Treasurer presented his Budget Speech he took it as presented and requested the Leader of the Opposition to wait for the next meeting, one week later on the 25th November, to respond to the budget. To his understanding Budget Documentation will be delivered later to the Opposition Members. The Opposition Leader then refused stoutly to move the motion to adjourn.

Leader of THE Party, Hon. Don Polye raised a point of order on how important knowledge of Budget Expenditures in Volume 3 was to the people and to make presentation of the budget complete. The Speaker then made the ruling that these (Volume 3) are only accompanying bills so the Leader of Government Business can move the motion to adjourn the debate.

After a heated interjection from other Members of Parliament, Parliament was adjourned to the 25th November, 2014 at 10am as is tradition for the Opposition’s response to what the Opposition believes is an incomplete budget/money plan.

The question here is how can one tell a Nation that its budget is for K16.1 billion and then not tell the nation how it intends to spend it?

We in the Opposition believe that from the very beginning the O’Neill-Dion government and the Treasurer knew that the budget presentation on the floor of the people’s Parliament on Tuesday was INCOMPLETE since Volume 3 was never presented therefore rendering some parts of the presentation false or at least some part, if not all, of that budget presentation on the floor, was made in the absence of any genuine belief that the budget presentation was true.

The Opposition is not happy that they and their people in the respective districts were treated in such manner. We in the Opposition consider that the O’Neill-Dion government, through the Treasurer, made the INCOMPLETE budget presentation WITH THE INTENTION that the INCOMPLETE budget should be acted upon by the Opposition and the more than 7.5 million people of PNG.

Fortunately the Opposition detected the INCOMPLETENESS of the budget and the Opposition Leader refused to move adjournment on the last Bill meaning the Budget Presentation was incomplete.

Unless this incompleteness of the 2015 Budget is rectified, the more than 7.3 million people of PNG will have an incomplete 2015 budget with some parts, if not all, of which is wilfully false and the people will suffer and experience economic damages.

What the O’Neill-Dion government did, through the Treasurer, bordered on FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION on the floor of Parliament to the people of PNG and maybe the world at large, about the completeness of the 2015 Budget and the veracity of parts, if not the whole, of the Budget Presentation.

This is my third term in Parliament and what happened on Tuesday was the very first time since 2002, if not in the history of Independent PNG, for it to happen. It is what I would call a National Economic Mismanagement Tragedy; courtesy of the O’Neill-Dion Government. Tuesday was a sign of worse economic times ahead for PNG.

(Note: Dr Marat's statement dated 19th November, 2014 was originally uploaded to The Opposition, Papua New Guinea page around 14 hours ago)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

ALLEGATIONS 'OF ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OR CONSPIRACY TO KILL' MADE BY NIXON DUBAN ‘ABSURD’ SAYS BRYAN KRAMER

By PAUL REINBARA

Bryan Kramer has described allegations by Minister of Petroleum and Member
for Madang Nixon Duban that Kramer attempted to assassinate or conspired to kill him as absurd and baseless. Criminal Investigation Division officers are investigating the complaint by Duban against Kramer.

Officers leading the investigations obtained a search warrant on Kramer's
residence in Madang last week Friday. Duban is claiming Kramer conspired to have him killed at the Polling Counting Centre in Jomba Catholic Parish in Madang when Duban was declared the winner of the 2013 By-Election. Kramer was the runner up in 2013 Madang Open Seat By-Election. The National Court ordered the By-Election after finding Duban guilty of committing bribery and fraud during the 2012 General Elections for the same seat. Kramer, Duban and sixteen other candidates recontested the By-Election in September 2013.

Duban was returned, however Kramer has taken it back to Court on allegations
of wide-scale vote rigging including further allegations of bribery and fraud committed by Duban. Kramer who is currently in Port Moresby for his election petition against Duban explained that he wrote to Madang Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Sylvester Kalaut this week to advise him that he is aware of the investigations and that these allegations are clearly invented by Duban in a desperate attempt to discredit him and divert attention from Duban's criminal prosecution in relation to bribery and fraud charges in the 2012 General Elections, as well as Kramer's election petition.

The latter case is now before the Courts listed for trial in Madang in two
weeks. Kramer alleges that the witnesses Duban is relying on to support
his complaint have been bribed to give false statements. “Duban attempted the same method in the prosecution of my 2012 Election Petition by inducing a number of my witnesses with district project funding to commit perjury in his defence. In the end the National Court Judge formed the view that his witnesses gave false testimony and requested the Madang Police to have them investigated”, Kramer said.

In his letter to the PPC, Kramer said that he is happy to make himself available with his lawyer to be interviewed over the fictitious allegations, and produce two witnesses and disputable evidence in his defence. “Should your officers still believe there is reasonable grounds to formally charge me then I respect their constitutional duty to do so and shall defend the charges in the Courts. I'm currently out of the Province but willing to fly back to Madang anytime next week for an interview”, Kramer wrote.

BRYAN KRAMER ARRESTED ON "CONSPIRACY TO KILL" 'CHARGE'

By FRANKLIN KOLMA - POST COURIER

PRIVATE businessman and administrator of social media entity "PNG News", Bryan Kramer, was arrested yesterday afternoon in Port Moresby on allegations of conspiracy to kill.

This was confirmed by NCD Metropolitan Superintendent Andy Bawa yesterday after being contacted by the Post-Courier about the controversial arrest that has since gone viral on social media.

Supt Bawa said Mr Kramer was arrested on allegations of conspiracy to commit murder. Supt Bawa said he had only been made aware of the arrest after being contacted by the media, adding that the arrest was prompted by a complaint laid by Madang MP Nixon Duban.

The allegations were that Mr Kramer had planned at some point in time to cause the death of Mr Duban, who is Petroleum and Energy Minister in the Peter O’Neill-led Government.

Supt Bawa said the allegations were serious and that questioning and further investigations would have to be made before a statement could be released.

In a text message sent before he was cut off from communications, Mr Kramer had told members of his social media group to publish that he was confident any charges or complaints made against him were all on unreasonable grounds that had no legal standing and were only attempts to put pressure on him to deter his social media work.

The arrest was made at Port Moresby’s Ela Beach Brasserie at 2pm yesterday.

Patrons of the restaurant who witnessed the arrest said uniformed officers arrived at the hotel in two vehicles and made the arrest. The arrest comes straight after Mr Kramer was accused at the weekend of publishing news about the Prime Minister’s referral to a tribunal on social media prematurely.

Prior to his arrest, Mr Kramer made it clear that his publications on social media were only made after a press release from the Public Prosecutor was issued on Friday last week.

Mr Kramer and Mr Duban have contested the Madang Open seat in 2012, the result of which Mr Kramer disputed, leading to last year’s by-election.

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NOTE: Bryan Kramer was approached inside the Ela Beach Brasserie restaurant and taken away by police, who according to a police source are members of the 'Dog Unit', at approximately 12.30 pm (not 2 pm as reported by the Post Courier). An eyewitness saw Bryan being taken away by police in a vehicle (licence plate number provided) which could belong to Bryan's family company. The vehicle with Bryan and police was accompanied by police in another vehicle. A source said "He was brought down to Boroko Police Station by police attached with Nixon Duban."

It looks like BK was granted bail late last night (by a magistrate or possibly by a National Court Judge) after police denied him bail and he was released at midnight. We think that BK should ask police what have they done to Captain James Pima's complaint against Nixon Duban for assaulting him at the helipad in total breach of the civil aviation laws, in Alotau in 2012. It was alleged by the Opposition in 2013 that investigations into the incident were not progressed (at the time) because Duban used his position as an MP and later as Police Minister to pervert the course of justice.

Capt Pima, a helicopter pilot and part owner of Helu Solutions Ltd who was allegedly "bashed up" by Duban laid a complaint with CASA, NAC and the RPNGC and, according to Albert Tagua, followed up on his complaint several times however the authorities took little action. After the issue was raised again in 2013, Albert Tagua also advised "Punching a Pilot on duty amounts to Hijack after 911 and carries serious penalty."
NIXON DUBAN - The Godfather?

An article by Malum Nalu about the alleged incident was published in the National on July 30th, 2012 however Nixon Duban was not identified in that article. There cannot be two sets of laws for people. We believe that Nixon Duban should have already been disqualified as a member of parliament anyway. He is still facing criminal charges after being "found guilty of two grounds of bribery and undue influence committed in relation to 2012 National Elections" by the National Court of Disputed Returns on the 3rd of June 2013!

We will post more later about Nixon Duban, who many people are aware is Bryan Kramer's political enemy. We firmly believe that the complaint against Bryan Kramer, (initially made months ago & reported on in July this year) is politically motivated, malicious, false and also vexatious. We believe that Nixon Duban should get ready to be sued by BK for defamation and false accusation and furthermore he should be prepared to vacate the Madang Open seat in the very near future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ANOTHER CONTRACTOR WINDFALL BUDGET

JASON K WAUGLE

"Try have a look at this circular...all government departments won't be getting their end of the year warrants except for personal emoluments...don't know how the departments will operate until the beginning of 2015 financial year???, a source said.

The source expressed serious concern about how government departments are going to function because the financial year starts at the end of February or beginning of March every year and maybe all public servants might as well go home and comeback when the warrants for next year are ready to be released.

In Circular Instruction No.05/2014 dated 14th November 2014 and addressed to all Heads of Departments and Statutory Bodies with the subject entitled ‘2014 Budget Savings’, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc Kt OBE, Chief Secretary to Government from the Department of Prime Minister & National Executive Council based at Morauta Haus in Waigani, Port Moresby said the following:

“I seek the urgent cooperation of all Agency Heads in the implementation of decisive and urgent action to ensure the Government delivers on its commitment to stay within its strict fiscal settings agreed in the 2014 Budget.”

“As you may be aware there has been a tightening of the Government’s fiscal situation in 2014. There are several factors involved including a decline in tax revenues due to falls in some key commodity prices, increased costs associated with the completion of facilities for the 2015 South Pacific Games and increased costs on Government debt.”

“Owing to these pressures on our National Budget, some adjustments of agency budgets will be necessary to bring down aggregate Government expenditure to a level that maintains the 2014 Budget deficit at or below 5.9% of GDP an ensures the total debt to GDP ratio does not exceed 35%.”

“As we are at a late stage of the year action to curtail spending needs to be immediate if it is to be effective. Accordingly, I have directed the Secretary for Treasury to cease all warrant releases (except for personal emoluments), effective immediately. Further, all Agency Heads are to immediately return to the Waigani Public Account all uncommitted monies held in agency bank accounts. Under no circumstances are funds to be transferred to trust accounts.”

“Thank you in anticipation of your complete support for the implementation of this difficult but critically important measure.”

No wonder Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Hon. Belden Norman Namah was ‘furious’ on the floor of parliament yesterday at the lack of budgetary data for a budget worth K16.2 Billion. Yesterday officials reportedly arrived about two hours late to the annual Budget Lockup in the Parliament State Function Room with no Budget Books as the Budget Books reportedly ‘were still being printed’.

The Opposition Leader, who described the budget as not the People’s Budget but the Contractors Budget, said earlier today: "Yes, because the most important part of the Budget Book is the Capital Expenditure. That was not presented yesterday. Budget is an Act of Parliament hence it must be presented in its entirety. This is criminal. This is a clear indication of a government which has lost total control in the management of our beautiful country. This budget is another windfall for the contractors. I call it "ANOTHER CONTRACTORS WINDFALL BUDGET".


SO DOES THE REFERRAL OF PRIME MINISTER MEAN HE IS AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED??

By BRYAN KRAMER

Short answer is NO.

So why? The Supreme Court in the case Grand Chief Somare vs Chief Ombudsman Commission ruled a leader who is referred to a leadership tribunal is automatically suspended from duty from the date of his referral. In other words the exact time and date the Public Prosecutor writes to the Chief Justice requesting him to appoint the tribunal. This decision is based on Section 28(1) of Constitution
"Where a matter has been referred to a tribunal the person alleged to have committed misconduct in office is suspended from duty."

However in the cases of the Governor General, Chief Justice and Prime Minister they may only be suspended by decision of the Leadership Tribunal.

This is because of the importance of the office they occupy. The Constitution Section 94 that relates to the GG, Section 182 relates to CJ and Section 142(6) the Prime Minister states that they "may be" suspended pending an investigation into a question of misconduct in office. The word "maybe" in law makes it a discretionary power so a decision has to be made and hence why it cannot be automatic.
So in this case the Leadership Tribunal once appointed and announced by the Chief Justice in the coming weeks will convene (meet) and the first order of business will be to accept the charges of misconduct and Ombudsman Commission's statement of reasons presented to them by the Public Prosecutor. The second order of business will be whether or not to suspend the Prime Minister while they make enquires or hear the evidence against him.

In the Grand Chief Somare's case in 2011 the tribunal made the decision not to suspend him on the grounds the allegations of misconduct were not serious involving corruption or abuse of office.
The decision whether or not to suspend Peter O'Neill will be determined by whether the Tribunal are of the opinion the allegations charged against him are described as serious offences of misconduct in office and whether there is serious culpability (guilt). In my opinion there is, because they relate to abuse of office raising issues of conflict of duty and interest as well as lacking in integrity.
However rather than taking the most noble and respectable approach of stepping aside and allowing the process to clear his name Peter O'Neill said he had no intention to step aside unless asked to. He said he would follow the precedent set by Somare.

What Peter O'Neill fails to realise is Somare actually stepped aside when he was referred by the Public Prosecutor to face the Leader Tribunal on 13th December 2010. He then made an application before the tribunal not to be suspended taking into account the allegations of misconduct were not serious but mere administrative offences. So if O'neill claims he will follow Somare then he should in fact step aside or take leave and make an application to the Tribunal whether or not he should be suspended.

Every other leader implicated in any serious misconduct allegations must immediately vacate that public office and allow investigations to take place so as to clear his name without tarnishing the good name and image of the leadership office that he occupies.
The next article will cover the process of the tribunal and likely efforts of the Prime Minister to delay or stay the Leadership Tribunal from hearing the allegations of misconduct against him.