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Posts Tagged ‘Puka Temu’

Will Prime Minister O’Neill crumble before NEC opponents over Manumanu COI?

March 1, 2017 5 comments

pok-and-duma

When evidence was made public on 1 February this year, linking the State Enterprises Minister, Defence Minister and Chair of the Central Supply and Tender Board, to a major land swindle, Prime Minister O’Neill swiftly announced a Commission of Inquiry.  

He appeared to have his ducks lined up. The ABC reported just five days later that a retired judge was to be appointed head of the COI. 

Two names were thrown around in the social media, Warwick Andrews and Graham Ellis.

Odds are it was the latter who had been approached by O’Neill. 

After all, Ellis had previously been asked by the NEC to Chair the Interim Anti-Corruption Office. However, this appointment has been blocked by a court injunction, which wont be heard until April. 

This has left Ellis in limbo. Cue the role as head of the Commission of Inquiry.

However, evidence coming from within the NEC indicates that Minister for Public Services, Puka Temu, among others, have deep reservations over O’Neill’s choice.

If the appointment is Ellis, this makes sense.

When he was a National Court Judge from 1990-1992, and 2009-2011, he had a reputation for effectively clearing out case backlogs and swiftly getting the wheels of justice into gear. The Poreporena Freeway Commission of Inquiry he chaired in 1992 was completed within 8 weeks and under budget. He also Chaired a 1991 Leadership Tribunal that led to the famous resignation of Ted Diro.

For a Minister such as Puka Temu, whose own connections with William Duma’s sticky fingers, has been documented by the National Court – the news that a no-nonsense judge, with a reputation of being fiercely independent, may not have come as welcomed news. 

It is not clear how the struggle within NEC will turn out. But it stands to reason if the retired Judge already appointed to head the country’s premiere anti-corruption office is selected, it is a sign that substance has trumped expediency. On the other hand, if we see hands ruffle down to the bottom of the barrel, we can safely assume a certain Prime Minister is being held over it – and is prepared to set up a COI, that will be little more than a whitewash.

Court finds fraud in issuing of SABL leases

October 31, 2016 Leave a comment

sabl cartoon

The National Court has ruled another two Special Agriculture and Business Leases issued by the Department of Lands unlawful.

The judge found there was “a clear indication or suggestion of dubious, reckless or corrupt dealings or actions by the Defendants” –  The Department of Lands and the Minister, Puka Temu.

There have now been at least seven reported cases in which the courts have found the Department of Lands failed to follow proper process in the issuing of SABL leases and have declared the leases null and void.

In this latest case customary landowners in East New Britain challenged the decision of the Minister for Lands to grant two SABL leases over their traditional land at Giregire in 2004.

The Court found the Department of Lands and the Minister failed to follow the provisions of Sections 10, 11 and 102 of the Lands Act in granting the leases and made “fundamental” and “serious” errors.

In particular, there was no evidence of any agreement between the Minister and the landholders as to the terms and conditions on which the land would be leased and no evidence the Minister had even discharged his duty to meet with the landholders to ascertain their views!

The court found the Department and Minister acted contrary to Sections 11 and 102 of the Land Act as no lease was ever signed by the legitimate landowners. The court also found the decision to grant the leases was in direct breach of Sections 11 and 102 and against natural justice as the proper landowners were never ascertained.

The court then went even further and said the whole circumstances of the case were so unsatisfactory, irregular and unlawful, the grant of the SABL leases was tantamount to fraud. Indeed, the judge said the there was “a clear indication or suggestion of dubious, reckless or corrupt dealings or actions by the Defendants” [The Departamnet of Lands and the Minister, Puka Temu]

The court quashed the decisions of the Department of Lands and the Minister to grant the SABL leases.

The thirteen MPs so far charged, waiting sentence or imprisoned

April 27, 2015 2 comments

From ACT NOW!

For those of you who are keeping track, this is an update on the Papua New Guinea members of Parliament who have been charged or found guilty and await sentence or have been imprisoned to date:

CHARGED: Francis Awesa, MP for Imbonggu, Works Minister

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, Nov 2014 for unlawfully engrossed a public easement for personal use and in the process denied the public right of access and failure to disclose a property. Public Prosecutor requested a Leadership Tribunal, March 2015

CHARGED: Delilah Gore, MP for Sohe, Community Development Minister

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, January 2015

CHARGED: John Hickey, MP for Bogia

Arrested and charged by police for misappropriation of K700,000, March 2015

PRISON: Havila Kavo, MP for Gulf

Found guilty of misusing US$50,000 from a trust account. Sentenced to three years prison, December 2014

GUILTY: Ronny Knight, MP for Manus

Found guilty of misappropriation of K900,000 by a Leadership Tribunal, March 2015. Awaiting sentencing.

CHARGED: Boka Kondra, North Fly MP and Tourism Minister

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission and suspended from Office for alleged misappropriation and misuse of funds including K85, 276 from the DSIP funds and District Support Grant; K134, 966 from DSIP and DSG funds in rental payments for accommodation in Port Moresby; and K18, 200 from the DSIP and DSG

CHARGED: James Lagea, Kagua-Erave MP

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission in January 2015 for his failure to submit Financial Returns as required under Section 89 of the Organic Law on the Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates and his failure in upholding his duties and responsibilities of office as required under Section 27 of the Constitution and the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leaderhship.

CHARGED: Ben Micah, Kavieng MP and Public Service Minister

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, March 2015

The referral may relate to allegations the Minister has been living at the Grand Papua Hotel at the taxpayers expense

CHARGED: Belden Namah – Vanimo-Green MP

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission for alleged misconduct in office, April 2015. Mr Namah faces at least 16 categories of misconduct, including failure to declare his election expenses and failure to acquit public funds among others.

CHARGED: Peter O’Neill – Ialibu Pangia MP and Prime Minister

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission over accusations of bypassing proper procedures to secure a $1.3 billion loan from UBS bank to buy Oil Search shares for the PNG government. The referral is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court. O’Neill is also using the courts to challenge an arrest warrant issued in June 2014 over allegations of fraud

PRISON: Francis Potape, Komo-Magarima MP

Found guilty of misappropriation of over US$100,000, October 2014, and sentenced to 30 months prison

CHARGED: Puka Temu, Abau MP

Referred to the Public Prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission, March 2015, for alleged misconduct in office. The first allegation relates to the facilitation and allocation of a piece of state land to a group in Western Highlands when he was Lands Minister in the Somare-Temu Government. The second allegation refers to a road contract awarded by the Abau Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee, allegedly to a company owned by a close relative of Sir Puka.

PRISON: Paul Tiensten, Pomio MP and Minister for National Planning

Sentenced to nine years prison in 2014 for stealing over K10 million.

In February 2015 convicted over the theft of a further K3.4 million with a further 3 years added on his sentence.

SABL Case Study No.1: Puka Temu and the Changhae Tapioka cassava project

November 25, 2013 6 comments

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 1: Pages 174-198

“This is total alienation of customary land and we find the transaction to be highly irregular, improper and unlawful and defeat [sic] the whole purpose and intent of lease-lease back and especially, landowner participation… It goes against every grain of the concept of SABL” [p195]

 “Minster Temu’s direct involvement and active interests in the processing and approval of these SABLs raises a lot of questions” [p181]

 Landowners’ consent which is pivotal to granting an SABL was not obtained [p196]

 “The actions taken by the Minister … is unlawful and defeats the whole purpose of the SABL” [p189]

 “laws were breached and short-cuts were made to issue the grants” [p180]

 “The handling of the whole SABL relating to the cassava bio-fuel project … was a complete mess. {p181]

 “State lawyers involved in this project were reckless in the discharge of their official functions” [p189]

This Case Study includes seven Special Agriculture and Business Leases over Portions 444C, 446C, 517C, 518C, 519C, 521C & 520C 

SABL FINAL REPORT COVERThe 7 SABLs cover approximately 13,7000 hectares of both customary and State land within the Launakalana area of Rigo District in Central Province.

The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and Central Province Government decided to develop this cassava bio-fuel project under a public/private partnership. The project was approved in principle by the National Executive Council in July 2004 based on a submission from DAL which followed a proposal from Changhae Ethanol Corporation of South Korea (CHEC).

In February 2005 a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the State of PNG and CHEC through its subsidiary Changhae Tapioka PNG Limited (CTL) to develop a cassava bio-fuel project.

“the MoA was drafted by the developer – CHEC. The Government of PNG had very little input if not, none at all… This is apparent from the terms… which weighs very much in favor of the developer” [p193]

Immediately after the MoA was signed an ‘Inter Departmental Committee’ was set up comprising DAL, Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP), Departments of Central Province, Department of Trade and Industry (DT&I) and Investment Promotion Authority (IPA). The government allocated K1 million through the National Agriculture Development Plan in the 2007 and 2008 budget to support the cassava industry.

Customary landowners were encouraged to lease out their land under a ‘Land Mobilization Program’ to provide sufficient land for the cassava cultivation and processing of bio-fuel. Under the MoA the State was obliged to deliver a total land area of 20,000 hectares to make the project viable.

“The whole land investigation processes including completion of the LIRs [Land Investigation Reports] were done in a rush. The LIRs were incomplete and defective and not capable of producing an SABL… This clearly shows the lack of professionalism on the part of officers carrying out the investigations” [p196]

Seven SALS’s were granted to CTL, each for a term of 40 years. Eleven Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) representing 7 villages granted SABLs although only 6 ILGs were identified in DLPP records [page 177].

The total customary land included in the seven SABLs was 10,900 hectares together with 2,800 hectares of State land. This was 6,300 hectares less than the government was obliged to provide under the MoA.

For two SABLs two Notices of Direct Grant were issued, one signed by the then Secretary for DLPP,  Pepi Kimas, the other by the Minister for Lands, Puka Temu.

“There were a lot of inconsistencies in the manner in which direct grants were made by DLPP. In some cases direct grants were made directly to the developer – CTL whist some were issued to the registrered ILG” [page 179]

The direct grants to TCL were made by the Minister against the advice of DLPP and without the consent of the landowners – which DLPP says means the Minister was acting outside his powers and was cutting the landowners out of any direct benefits. [p180]

“The actions taken by the former Minister for Lands Puka Temu to issue grants directly to the developer – CTL without any agreement or approval of the landowners … is… unlawful”. [p180]

“There was a total lack of coordination, consultation and dialogue between the former Secretary of DLPP Pepi Kimas and his Minister for Lands Puka Temu resulting in the double issue of leases over the same portions of land… It was clear from the outset that both … were operating in total isolation and doing there own thing… It was a clear breach of existing laws including procedures relating to SABL and reflects badly on DLPP” [p181]

The project was expected to take 5 years to develop from 2007 and to achieve fu;ll completion by 2012 by which time an Ethanol Plant would be constructed for downstream processing. However to date only 800 hectares have been used for cassava production and no cassava has been sold yet. The project has come to a virtual standstill.

The MoA gives ‘exclusive monopoly’ to CTL to produce bio-fuel and other ethanol products in the country and is intended to prevent the cultivation and processing of other crops with the potential of producing bio-fuel such as jethropa, oil palm and coconut. This does not reflect the fact DAL has given approvals for jethropa and oil palm plantations which are fully operational in other parts of the country.

“There is no evidence to suggest the Environmental Permit has been issues to the developer and DEC has no records to verify a permit has been issued… it is unlawful for the developer… to proceed with the cassava project, especially the activities that have already been carried out on 600 hectares of land” [p197]

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. All the SABL leases/titles and Direct Grants are to be REVOKED forthwith [emphasis in the original]

2. The MoA be REVIEWED [emphasis in the original]

3. No further work be carried out on the project until new SABL leases and titles are properly issued

Govt backing controversial rice project

January 23, 2012 2 comments

By Issac Nicholas

A State negotiating team will assess the K5 billion Central province commercial rice project that will see Papua New Guinea produce rice on a larger scale, reports The National.

Agriculture Minister Sir Puka Temu told parliament last Friday that the Central commercial rice project was initiated by the former Somare government under the leadership of Ano Pala. The project is valued between K3 billion and K5 billion.

“As far as the injection of capital is concerned, it covers 60,000 to 100,000ha of land which will be the first of its kind in the country.

“For the past 30 to 35 years no investor has put his hand up to invest this kind of capital in commercial rice production,” Sir Puka said.

He said commercial rice production was a high risk low yield area and this would be the first time an investor was looking into this possibility.

“The challenges are there and the previous and the current government are assessing particular deed of agreement.”

Sir Puka expressed disappointment at the sector for jumping up and down, including taking out a full-page advertisement.

“I do not know where they are coming from. Issues raised through the media are that the proposal is anti-trade.”

Sir Puka said there was an assumption that the price would increase but the government was looking at that among other issues.
He said the exclusivity of the import of rice for a specific period was under negotiations.

Sir Puka said the state negotiating team comprised Treasury and Finance, National Planning, Internal Revenue Commission, Environment and Conservation, ICCC and Lands and Physical Planning.

“Some people are putting the cart before the horse but, at the end of the day, national interest must come first.”

He said for commercial rice production,

“PNG does not have land and the single biggest land available is in the Kairuku-Hiri area where landowners and leaders have agreed to venture into this project”.

“Rice must be exported and become cheaper. The long term gains negate the short term pains,” Sir Puka said.

He said the Trukai agreement would be reviewed this month and the government hoped to come with a win-win situation for all parties.