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.
Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau must be thoroughly sick and fed up with the courts in Papua New Guinea because they keep losing legal cases.
Yesterday’s ruling in the National Court, dismissing Rimbunan Hijau’s application to strike out proceedings brought by a local non government organisation, was just the latest in a long series of court decisions against the company dating back over the last decade.
Rimbunan Hijau consistently denies its logging operations in PNG are illegal and unsustainable and employs a number of highly paid consultants and lobbyists to argue in its defence in the media and an international team of lawyers to argue its case in court.
Yet court decisions suggests the allegations of illegal logging are true as are the claims of serious human rights abuses, of which more emerged last week with Rimbunan Hijau accused of flying police into its logging camps to quell protests by traditional landowners over illegal logging in their forests .
In 2002 PNG’s Ombudsman Commission ruled the 1999 allocation of logging rights to 850,000 hectares of forest in Kamula Doso to Rimbunan Hijau was illegal.
But this did not deter Rimbunan Hijau from aggressively pursuing the logging rights through litigation. In 2006 the PNG Forest Authority failed to defend the litigation and the court accepted an agreement cooked up by Rimbunan Hijau and the regulator that again granted Rimbunan Hijau the rights to log the 850,000 ha.
But in stepped the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum who launched an appeal against the agreement, claiming it too was fraudulent and illegal. In 2009 the courts agreed, accepting the NGO’s appeal and declaring the earlier agreement unlawful and void.
During the course of the proceedings Rimbuan Hijau took every opportunity to try and exhaust the plaintiff’s resolve and financial resources by appealing to the Supreme Court each interlocutory ruling, losing every time.
But after the original Ombudsman decision, Rimbunan Hijau hadn’t just relied on one means to secure the rights to Kamula Doso. In addition to its fraudulent agreement it had also secured approval for the logging from the National Forest Board, using exactly the same process as in 1999 which the Ombudsman Commission had earlier ruled illegal. The Forest Board was still headed by PNG’s Director of Conservation, Wari Iamo, who the Ombudsman recommended be dismissed for his role in granting the earlier rights to Rimbunan Hiaju – a recommendation the government never implemented.
Again, in stepped the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum to challenge the Board decision through a judicial review case. And again, the courts agreed, ruling the allocation illegal after Rimbunan Hijau had again lost a series of interlocutory appeals.
It is not just the illegal logging cases that Rimbunan Hijau is losing. It has also tried to stop the criticism of its logging operations and the allegations of illegal and unsustainable logging and human rights abuses though defamation proceedings against the Eco-Forestry Forum and the Post Courier newspaper (one of only two daily newspapers in PNG – Rimbunan Hijau owns the other).
But like its illegal logging cases, Rimbunan Hijau has lost all its defamation cases.
Not only is Rimbunan Hijau losing the court cases, it is also having to pay the legal costs, not just for its own expensive team of local and overseas lawyers, but also those of the Eco-Forestry Forum. Each time it loses Rimbunan Hijau gets a costs order against it. Costs paid to the Forum to date are estimated to be close to K1 million and still growing.
The latest court loss means that Rimbunan Hijau will again face yet another trial, this time over the validity of PNG’s National Forest Plan which is meant to ensure the sustainability of all logging operations but which critics say does not exist in a valid form and is failing the nation’s forests. https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/revelations-png-police-used-by-loggers-against-villagers/ https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/police-brutality-targetting-anti-logging-villagers-to-be-investigated/ https://pngexposed.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/police-attack-landowners-for-protesting-against-sabl-land-grab/
It was laughable listening to Wari Iamo, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation, serve up his crticism of the Environment Amendment Act last week, when he was instrumental in supporting its passage through Parliament in May 2010.
Iamo, so long the willing puppet of Papua New Guinea’s destructive logging industry, its worst mining industry polluters and the corrupt government of Michael Somare, wants us to now believe he was always against the Environment Amendment Act, thought it should never have been passed and he viewed the changes, which heaped more discrtionary power in his hands, were unconstitutional from the outset.
What self-serving rubbish Wari!
You were 110% happy to collude with the Chinese mining company, MCC, and the National Alliance party of Michael Somare to ensure the amendments were passed.
Just as you have happily sat on the National Forest Board approving millions of hectares of unsustainable and destructive logging by your mates at Rimbunan Hijau.
And just as you have happily approved each of the Special Agriculture and Business Leases which have unlawfully stolen 5 million hectares of land from its traditional owners.
In 2006 the Ombudsman Commission recommended Iamo be sacked for his role in illegally allocating 850,000 hecatres of forest in Kamula Doso to Rimbunan Hijau totally outside the proper processes of the Forestry Act.
Papua New Guinea would have been a better place and its environment better protected if that recommendation had been executed.
While the new Environment Minister might be fooled by Iamo’s twisted lies and attempts to ingratiate himself with his new political masters in Waigani, the Prime Minister and his Deputy, Belden Namah, won’t be so easy to con.
A report from Papua New Guinea’s Auditor General reveals that waste management in PNG is “ineffective and fragmented” and the Department of Conservation is failing in its role as lead agency.
The report (2.8mb) also finds there is little reason for optimism that the situation will change in the near future.
“The absence of proper waste processing facilities and well developed landfill sites in Port Moresby and other parts of the country, mean that the open and uncontrolled dumping of waste is likely to continue, leading to harmful impacts on the health and welfare of the people and the environment”.
The report, which was presented to Parliament in October 2010 presents the findings of an audit conducted to assess how efficiently, effectively and economically solid waste is managed in PNG.
The audit focused mainly on the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), since it is the lead agency responsible for planning, coordinating and providing the national legal/policy framework in relation to environmental protection at all sectors, and governments levels.
The audit found there are neither proper plans nor provision of sufficient funding in the budget for waste management prevention or awareness programs. This is despite the fact waste management can have a negative impact on the health and welfare of the community and has both direct and indirect linkages to economic development,
In Port Moresby, a lack of policy for the management of waste and the inadequate approach to waste prevention, collection and treatment and disposal, and the lack of adequate services in the settlements, means that, there is indiscriminate dumping of refuse in all parts of Port Moresby into waterways, drains, roadsides and other public places.
The audit also highlights the high health risks from the inadequate methods of disposal of medical waste at the Baruni Dump in Port Moresby
“Dump operators, nearby residents and inhabitants of the Baruni Dump are exposed to high health risks, specifically the community who live adjacent to the medical waste disposal site. Indiscriminate dumping of medical waste and the practice of burying it in shallow pits, partially burning it with kerosene, and partly covering it with soil is considered as a serious health hazard..
Although the Auditor General recommended that DEC formulates a consolidated National Solid Waste Law to deal with the management of waste across the whole of PNG, that advice has been rejected by DEC which is instead only developing specific regulations under the Environment Act, 2000.
The National Court has awarded damages of K226 million to the women and children of Kiunga-Aiambak whose lives and forests were destroyed through illegal logging by Concord Pacific.
But the victims of this tragedy are unlikely to ever see a single toea in compensation as Concord Pacific exited the scene many years ago.
Menawhile the politicains and bureaucrats who facilitated and supported Concord Pacific’s illegal activities or who chose to turn a blind eye to what they knew was an illegal and destructive logging operation walk freely among us and will never pay for their own crimes.
This is just one more example of the fact that our laws protect the evil and corrupt while the innocent victims of their greed and selfishness suffer the consequences largely unnoticed.
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.