Gross mismanagement of Papua New Guinea’s public housing stock continues
It was announced in 2012 that in order to tackle corruption inside the National Housing Corporation, all NHC assets would be transferred to a private corporate entity the National Housing Estate Limited (NHEL).
Lets carefully consider the logic of this move. To tackle corruption, assets held by a public body governed by a statute passed by the national parliament, are going to be transferred into the hands of an opaque private entity, which is not formally accountable to the public in any way.
Makes sense don’t it?!?
If SABLs are the vehicle of choice for a land grab, NHEL appears to be a perfect front for grabbing the proceeds from Papua New Guinea’s public housing stock.
The last annual return submitted by NHEL to the Investment Promotion Authority covered 2009. Nothing has been submitted since. This is a violation of the Companies Act 1997.
A corporate Directors failure to submit an annual is punishable by a fine of K10,000. So lets see now if the Investment Promotion Authority will level fines against NHEL’s Directors Kevin Ahipum, Michael Barobe, Luke Karepe, Kevin Ngangan and John Witne.
The Auditor General has had no luck either opening NHEL’s books. In their most recent audit report on nationally owned companies, the Auditor General’s Office observes NHEL ‘had not submitted its financial statements for the years ended 31 December 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013 for my inspection and audit despite numerous reminders from my Office’.
Since incorporation the company has issued two shares, one is held by the Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Paul Isikiel, the other is held by James Marape the Finance Minister.
Do they own the company on trust for the people of Papua New Guinea, or in a private capacity? Its not clear.
Although the company’s constitution states the Ministers’ hold the shares on trust, they have utterly failed to safeguard NHEL assets. The company has not been audited and its financial records are hidden from public view.
And what of NHEL’s website, take a look for yourself – does it suggest a well managed and financially transparent company?
It is time for the Auditor General to conduct a special investigation into NHEL, and to begin criminal proceedings against anyone found to be responsible for misappropriation of NHEL assets.