Environmentalist, Waigani Corridor
CEPA is a scapegoat!!
It is a carefully scheme strategized by a well-organised network to suck public money. Under the management of Dr Wari Iamo as the Secretary, with his smooth talking PR spin-doctor, Gunther Joku (current acting Secretary), and their Australian friend and strategist Andrew Taplin, along with close aids and cronies, this clique has successful enacted their grand plan. The CEPA Bill!!
It is common knowledge within the department that more than K3 million has been spent on this unbudgeted project. CEPA Project was never budgeted for in the 2011 fiscal year! The money was raised internally by transferring money from one account to another especially from the funds allocated under developmental (PIP) budgets, projects undertaken through joint-bilateral agreements like Kokoda Track Initiatives and Coral Triangle Initiatives (CTI), and further purged from the recurrent budgets.
This money was systematically (without detection) diverted in 2011. Department of Treasury, Planning, and Finance can confirm to approve or disapprove this fact. All this money went into the pockets of fly-in fly-out consultancy services from Australia, including a few PNG friends, whilst local expertises were undermined. If CTI Headquarters and the Australian Government ask the country focal point (SEP division of the DEC) to provide substantiated detailed acquittals, PNG is likely to face international sanctions due to misappropriation by entrusted agencies.
The CEPA concept has never been clearly articulated and presented by these “transformers”. Even DEC officers are kept at bay wondering what this concept is, a concept which has been the closely guarded secret of a private network. The CEPA Documentation has always been highly confidential.
Moreover, the industry or public has never been consulted widely. This begs the question, is the CEPA bill a bill or is it just a concept? The Minister responsible, John Pundari, might have been misled conveniently by the bureaucrats of the department and their spin-doctors. Alternatively, perhaps Mr. Pundari, with full knowledge of this scenario, tabled a bill, for a project that is grey at best, in an effort to blunt the genuine outcry from responsible leaders, and citizens who wish to know the truth about the Nautilus project, as well as other controversial projects.
There is no policy underpinning this bill either, if there is one, then, it was never sighted. Mr. Pundari, the CEPA bill was a cleverly created scapegoat to deviate and ease tension and save face.
The minister has requested adequate funding for the Department also, the reason being that it is underfunded. Well, that is reasonable request given the range of environmental concerns expressed in recent years, however, the real issue is:
- Is the DEC’s management effectively and efficiently executing their mandated roles and responsibilities within the given budget ceiling, including the development funds (PIP) and various trust and imprest accounts?
- Is the DEC prudently managing public funds as per the Public Finance Management Act?
- *If the minister and secretary know that the department is and was so under-resourced that it could not fulfull its regulatory functions, why did they issue countless permits of all sorts?
- Does the Secretary, Minister, and Environmental Council have the power to vet and say NO to further environmental permits until the current operations are properly regulated?
- Whilst the Department is concentrating on the bigger mining, petroleum, gas, agro-business and industrial industries, how effectively are the smaller businesses being regulated?
Respective leaders and Departments like DPM, Treasury, and Task Force Sweep should demand an urgent audit of the DEC spending, as well as weed out the bureaucratic syndicate that exists. PNG cannot lay back and watch the Department sink when functionally illiterate MPs waste public time day-dreaming in the champers ignoring significant discussions whilst their innocent colleagues call for a merge, which is totally irrelevant and unpractical.
We cannot risk this nation because of few devious greedy wannabe barons in the public sector. We want a Papua New Guinea where there is hope and the future is secure and well within our grasp, where our beloved environment can be preserved and protected, our responsibilities to flora and fauna met and the management of our environment conducted in a manner that is responsible and respectful.
Parliament-elected Prime Minister Peter O’Neill continued to up his popularity stakes when his government yesterday nullified a law which shielded resource companies from environmental damage lawsuits.
Reports from the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby indicate that the O’Neill government has revoked the 2010 amendments to PNG’s Environmental Act, which the then Somare government pushed and got parliament to pass to protect the $1.5 billion Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine.
It is understood MP Thompson Haroquave, who is the environment minister in the O’Neill government, tabled the legislation and was able to get the parliament to vote in favour of the contentious provisions being invalidated.
However, Supreme Court-reinstated PM Sir Michael Somare has vowed to review all of the O’Neill administration’s policies and undertakings “when it gets back into office”.
The 2010 amendments by the Somare government were widely criticised and opposed by PNG landowners, who own 97 per cent of land in PNG but following the legislative changes could not sue resource companies for environmental damage.
Civil society in PNG, led by Port Moresby-based advocacy group Act NOW!, campaigned against the law and collected over 18,000 signatures in an online petition. They were later joined by Mr O’Neill’s deputy and then Opposition Leader Belden Namah who said the legislation was not in the “national interest”. Another MP linked to the Somare government, Ken Fairweather, also quit and moved to the middle benches in protest against the amendments.
The revoking of the controversial law coincides with Mr O’Neill’s announcement of free public health care after a tour of the Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG’s largest government-funded public hospital. The new health policy as well as the free education policy, which the parliament-elected PM announced last August, has been welcomed by ordinary Papua New Guineans as they battle to overcome some of the region’s worst social indicators.
The amendments’ revoking comes a month after the PNG Supreme Court rejected an appeal by landowners to stop the Ramu nickel mine from dumping its waste off the coast of Madang in the north of PNG.
By David Ritter
Controversial global consultancy McKinsey & Company has been unceremoniously dumped from giving advice on how to reduce emissions from rainforests in Papua New Guinea, reports Crikey.
It’s not surprising. As every good conjuror knows, the appeal of an act lies in both the attractiveness of the illusion and the secrecy surrounding how the trick is executed. But if the performance fails or the secret is revealed then the magician might need a new career.
For McKinsey (aka The Firm) those conjuring consultants who boast (“abracadabra!”) that never before has anyone had such problem solving powers, it has been a pretty bad year for tricks being discovered.
Earlier this year Crikey covered the fiasco of McKinsey’s international advice on rainforest preservation, pilloried in analysis undertaken by Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation respectively. The environmental critique of McKinsey’s rainforest work has now gone without significant substantive response for many months, despite numerous others including rival consultancies and a senior official at the World Bank giving support to the criticisms.
And now it seems McKinsey has been given its marching orders from advising on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation in PNG. According to an anonymous well-placed source inside the PNG government:
“The McKinsey consultants are no longer working on reducing emissions from deforestation in Papua New Guinea. The last time I saw a McKinsey consultant at the Ministry was in September this year. To be honest, we’re relieved that they are gone, now our own national experts can take up a leading role again.
“It was very confusing when they were here. We were not sure what they were engaged to do. The terms of reference for the consultancy contract were not available to us, and they stepped over into other peoples’ roles. They had close contacts with the old government.
“They were good at presenting their results, but a lot of what they did was copied and pasted from the information we provided them. The cost-curves they provided us were exaggerated and many of the studies used were outdated.
“They left because of the new government that has come in PNG, but also due to NGO campaigning, although we joke that the real reason is that we can no longer afford their bills!”
The government official was corroborated by a second source from civil society in PNG who said:
“The Greenpeace report on McKinsey, and an earlier one by Rainforest Foundation, made us ask a lot of questions about what these guys were doing in our country. ‘What are they here to do? How much are they being paid? How much are our local people paid? What about our national experts?’ These are the questions we were asking. These reports had some impact. McKinsey are a very respected company and before no one could shake them, but these reports shook them. It gave national NGOs a platform to lobby on, and when the new government came in the lobbying paid off.”
Neither source was prepared to be named.
But McKinsey’s annus horribilis has not been confined to rainforest policy. In June, following a journalistic campaign conducted by no less than Paul Krugman, McKinsey was forced to reveal the methods behind what the Nobel laureate clearly considered to be some pretty dodgy work in a report on US health policy. According to Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the US Senate Finance Committee, the McKinsey report was:
“… filled with cherry-picked facts and slanted questions … It did not provide employers with enough information for them to make honest choices and fair evaluations. Rather than correct the major deficiencies in their report, McKinsey has chosen to again stand by their faulty analysis and misguided conclusions.”
McKinsey’s participation in health reform in Britain has also been controversial, with a conflict of interest row erupting after it emerged that The Firm was not only advising the government on reforms to the NHS but also those who would financially expect to benefit financially from the changes. Typically, McKinsey has declined to comment.
But without doubt the most damaging revelation of all has been the insider trading scandal centring on Rajat Gupta, who ran McKinsey from 1994 to 2003 and remained a senior partner until 2007, and another ex-McKinsey partner, Anil Kumar. The fall-out worsened in October when Gupta was charged with five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud before a Manhattan court. The current McKinsey chief Dominic Barton has conceded the case is “incredibly distressing and embarrassing” for The Firm.
All of these fiascos are bringing McKinsey unwanted attention. On Saturday an extensive feature in London’s Financial Times was obviously sympathetic to McKinsey (drawing fascinating and derisory assertions about the paper’s partiality in the open comments section) but still highlighted The Firm’s eye-watering charge-out rates, cultish mentality and obsessive secrecy arrangements.
So what happens to the business model of the conjuring consultants when the tricks get found out? When it comes to McKinsey’s advice on reducing emissions from deforestation, the government of PNG has given a clear answer. It now remains to be seen whether other key rainforest nations — including Indonesia — follow suit.
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown says he’s concerned at the growing influence of Australian mining firms in Papua New Guinea.
A year out from PNG national elections, the United Resources Party (URP) reportedly raised $600,000 at a weekend function in Port Moresby attended by a number of international business leaders including one of Australia’s richest men Clive Palmer.
The URP has six members of parliament including Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma, Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allen and Tourism Minister Guma Wau.
Mr Palmer, who owns half the PNG-focused oil and gas company Chinampa Exploration, reportedly told the function PNG was entering “a new era”.
“This is the promised land and with a stable government and support from the community, this country can take off,” the Post-Courier newspaper quoted him as saying.
“You have gas, oil and other resources.
“There is a lot of opportunity here and the government must create the right environment.”
Senator Brown, who visited PNG two weeks ago, told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday the growing influence of Australian mining companies was troubling.
“It is very, very troubling … in a marvellous country like PNG where democracy ought to be based on a fair go for everybody,” Senator Brown said.
“I’m very concerned about that and … will be continuing to raise this issue in parliament.”
Mr Palmer has show a keen interest in PNG in recent years, throwing his weight behind a bid to introduce a PNG team in the National Rugby League competition.
He is the single biggest contributor to the Liberal National Party in Queensland and in 2009/10 donated $500,000 to the federal Liberals, according to the electoral commission website.
A spokesman for Mr Palmer told AAP he was unavailable for comment as he was in Hong Kong launching the float of Resourcehouse.
Chinese State owned mining company, MCC, owner of the controversial Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea, and Australian mining magnate, Clive Palmer, who has numerous close links with China, were prominent supporters of a recent fundraising dinner for the United Resources party of PNG’s Environment Minister, Benny Allen.
According to newspaper reports, the dinner raised K1.6 million and was described by URP strongman, Fred Wak as “a big night… a really good start for the URP’ as it builds towards the 2012 national election.
Palmer, a billionaire and one of Australia’s richest men, was easily the most prominent individual at the fundraising dinner. He has built his fortune on the rights to 160 billion tonnes of iron ore deposits in Western Australia.
As well as depending heavily on the Chinese government as his major customer and keeping a home in Beijing. Palmer has been described as “playing a pivatol role in the modernisation of China” and has recently announced several new investments with Chinese companies, including MCC, and funding from the Chinese Exim bank.
Palmer and his entourage arrived in Port Moresby in one of his private jets with Palmer declaring “there is a lot of opportunity here and the Government must create the right environment”.
Presumably the ‘right environment’ has little to do with protecting Papua New Guinea’s rich biodiversity and everything to do with approving mining operations, even where they involve destructive mining practices such as the marine dumping of mine tailings, which Benny Allen has approved for the Ramu nickel mine, leaving local landholders to fight the practice through the courts.
Allen has also approved the environmental permit for the Chinese Exim bank financed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone and will shortly be asked to give the go-ahead for the Yandera mine which will be constructed by another Chinese company, Chinese Nonferrous Metals, which also wants to dump its tailings in the sea.
Last year the PNG government was accused of passing controversial amendments to the Environment Act that protect foreign corporations from environmental damage claims and allow mining activities to be approved without consultation with customary landholders, to protect Chinese mining operations such as Ramu nickel.
Palmer knows a thing or two about political contoversy and corruption, having being close to disgraced Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson, a fund-raiser for his National Party and ‘one of its key powerbrokers”.
The United Resources Party is the second biggest political party in the current National Alliance led coallition government and has six MPs, three of whom are Ministers: William Duma (Minister for Petroleum and Energy), Benny Allen (Environment and Conservation) and Guma Wau (Culture and Tourism).
The fundraising dinner was also supported by Deputy National Alliance leader (Highlands) Don Polye, NA president Simon Kaiwi, former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu, Mining Minister John Pundari, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ano Pala.
Secretary of the Department of Conservation, Wari Iamo, has given the government a submission recommending that rather than a Commission of Inquiry, he should conduct an investigation into the controversial Special Purpose Business and Agriculture leases.
The idea that either the Department of Conservation, or the Office of Climate Change, which Iamo also heads, should do an inquiry is completely laughable. These departments are completely under-resourced, have no capacity to do a review of 74 separate leases and, especially in the case of DEC, they can’t even do their mandated work.
Even worse, Iamo and DEC are intrinsically involved in the granting of Forest Clearance Authorities that allow clear-fell logging within the SABLs. DEC grants the environmental permits, Iamo signs them and then, in his role on the National Forest Board, Iamo gets to approve the FCA!
The question is whether Iamo’s lame intervention is an attempt to save his own skin by preventing his role in the SABL scandal being revealed in the Commission of Inquiry – as was suggested on this blog yesterday – or is he acting on behalf of his old friends at Rimbunan Hijau?
Rimbunan Hijau, the notorious Malaysian logging company that faces constant allegations of illegal and unsustainable logging and human rights abuses, is itself believed to be heavily involved in the SABL scandal having being frustrated by legal challenges from getting further logging permits under the Forestry Act.
The RH owned National newspaper failed to report the Commission of Inquiry story for two days when it first broke – and then buried it on page 13 (in contrast, the Post Courier made the announcement of the Commission its front page story and PNGs flagship 6pm TV news program ran it as its lead item). The National has though given much greater prominence to Opposition MP Belden Namah’s opposition to the Commission of Inquiry. Namah is another well known ‘logging man’.
Wari Iamo has a long history of support for Rimbunan Hijau, especially in his role on the National Forest Board. In 2005 the Ombudsman Commission recommended Iamo be removed from the Forest Board for his role in unlawfully giving RH logging rights to the huge Kamula Doso concession in Western Province in 2002.
That recommendation was never effected, and in 2007 Iamo was again involved in a further decision to give RH the logging rights to Kamula Doso. That decision was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2009.
Wari iamo is an integral part of the SABL scam that allows logging by the back door and his attempt to derail the Commission of Inquiry is either an attempt to save himself, an attempt to protect Rimbunan Hijau or both.
Wari Iamo, Secretary of the Department of Conservation, has gone to the media peddling the story that he supports the government’s announced inquiry into Special Purpose Business and Agriculture leases, conveniently forgetting his own double role in facilitating the land grab.
Iamo says the government is worried because 65% of leases, which in total cover over 5.2 million hecatres of land, have been granted over the last two years and most are for 99 years. Iamo goes on to say that as acting Director of the Office of Climate Change he will be co-ordinating a whole-of-government full review of the leases.
Perhaps Wari hopes that he can take control of the review and somehow cover up the fact that his own Department of Environment and Conservation has granted Environmental Permits for many of the SABLs.
He will also be aware that as Chair of the National Forest Board he has overseen the granting of Forest Clearance Authorities (FCAs) that allow clear-felling of forests within the SABL areas – something that is not allowed under permits granted under normal forestry laws.
The SABLs have also caused a lot of embarrassment for the PNG government in international climate negotiations where Prime Minister Somare’s personal envoy, Kevin Conrad, has been peddling the notion that in return for protecting forests the government should be paid billions of dollars by foreign governments.
Acting Prime Minister, Sam Abal, announced last Thursday he will be setting up a Commission of Inquiry in the issue of SABLs. In the meantime, Abal also announced the suspension of the FCAs approved by Iamo.
Commissions are usually led by a judge with the assistance of two other judges, magistrates, or senior lawyers. Hopefully such an approach will prevent Wari Iamo escaping full scrutiny of his role in the SABL scandal.
Skeptics will however point out that the 2002 Ombudsman Commission inquiry into the illegal allocation of logging rights for the huge Kamula Doso concession to Rimbunan Hijau, recommended Wari be removed from the National Forest Board for his role in supporting the deal. That recommendation was never implemented.
From The National
ENVIRONMENT and Conservation Minister Benny Allan has forgiven politicians who have smeared his name over financial mismanagement claims levelled against the department in two reports by international consultancy firm Deloittes.
“However, I will forgive him and tell Papua New Guinea that I have not sighted the Deloittes reports and, when I do, I will decide my next course of action,” Allan, who is Unggai-Bena MP, said last night from Goroka
The minister had been away from Port Moresby soon after parliament met this year to elect Michael Ogio as the ninth governor-general of PNG.
He said trust and financial accounts were administrative matters that were dealt with at the departmental level.
“I do not give directions on how the department spends the funds allocated by the national government and donor agencies. That is something left with the secretary and department,” Allan said.
“I cannot be compared with the secretary; ministers do not sign cheques as they are administrative matters.
“I do not compromise with any of my departmental staff or the developers, and I want the Bulolo MP to know that.
“My record speaks for itself, both, at the district and department levels,” he added.
“I have forgiven Basil and will; assure the people of PNG that I will decide on what to do after I have seen the reports by Deloittes.”
The reports from the consultancy firm painted a highly critical picture of waste, mismanagement and lack of financial accountability within the Department of Environment and Conservation.
The Environment Protection Trust Account which is administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation has been put in the spotlight days after revelations about the misuse of funds in the Biodiversity Trust Fund.
A leaked BSP bank printout shows transactions on the Environment Protection account during August and September 2010.
Over the two month period over K2.5 million was distributed from the Trust Account, including an overseas telegraphic transfer in the sum of K1,373,455.
Other sizeable withdrawals from the account include three telegraphic transfers of K191,000, K48,000 and K33,000 and a cheque payment of K411,947.
There were also six cash withdrawals, totaling K17,982 and K41,000 was paid out in cheques of K3,000, K6,000, K1,000, K7,000k, K2,000, K2,000, K4,000, K4,000, K2,500, K7,000, K1,500 and K1,000.
Strangely the registered address shown on the bank print out is NOT the postal address for DEC. DEC’s postal address is PO Box 6601, Boroko – not PO Box 1212 Waigani.
Last week a report from international consultancy firm Deloitte was revealed which says the Department of Environment and Conservation has seriously misued donor funds deposited to its Biodiversity Trust Fund and compliance with procedures is ‘at a very low level’.
Wari Iamo, the embattled Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), is not expecting to survive too much longer in his role according to DEC insiders.
These sources claim the Secretary has directed that all outstanding Environmental permits be brought to his desk to be signed off, even though his shocked staff say the proposals haven’t been examined yet.
If this is indeed the case then it raises the question of who’s calling the shots? Various investors paying rewards for prompt approvals? Or higher people in government directing Iamo to approve their favoured projects promptly?