PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE VS. KPHL

Or more accurately, The Parliament vs. the KPHL.
 
by NEMA YALO

Counsel Ray Azaley has expressed his views on his FB page on the contest between the Public Accounts Committee and the Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd (KPHL).I agree with Ray.

The Supreme Court in the case MRDC vs. Ombudsman Commission SC931 (August 2008) ruled that MRDC, a company registered with the IPA and of which the Prime Minister is the sole shareholder holding shares for and on behalf of the State was subject to the scrutiny of the Ombudsman Commission (OC), in particular its CEO being subject to the Leadership Code, so as the ex-officio board members who by virtue of their substantive offices were also declared as being subject to the same law.

The Legislature, like the Judiciary, has the ultimate oversight role on the Executive arm and its agencies, arms and tentacles. KPHL CEO and the board are appointed by and are answerable to the Executive arm. Therefore by extension KPHL is answerable to the Legislature, no doubt. Who does the KPHL board and CEO ultimately declare and present dividends to, to themselves or to the People through their executive government?

The PAC is a Parliamentary Committee performing the role of the Legislature when it is not in session to perform those very roles and functions each Parliamentary Committee is obligated to perform. If one were to buy the KPHL's legal proposition, it is amazing that an Act of Parliament passed by the Parliament itself restricts its own ultimate power to supervise the executive. Was the Parliament blind to the doctrine of separation of powers when it passed laws to tie its own hands behind its back? It is immaterial that KPHL, or any SOE is registered with the IPA.

The Parliament through its committee (PAC), has power to review and probe Auditor General's reports, OC reports etc., and compel relevant persons and entities to give information it seeks.

Speaking of the KPHL Board, how did a board member who was dismissed from public office by a court of competent jurisdiction for misappropriating public funds, (he deposited into his own personal account and made cash withdrawals, including at poker machine venues) pass the probity test and the fit and proper person test to be appointed again to a publicly-owned multimillion Kina company board? Is that the same person or is it someone else with the same name?

Hon James Marape MP, Prime Minister, please TAKE BACK the People's KPHL from the hands of the present board and management.

NB: This is my opinion only. Only the National Court and the Supreme Court can determine and settle the issue of whether or not the KPHL is subject to the Constitutional oversight powers and functions of the Legislature.

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