The recommendation to includethe prime minister and opposition leader inthe Appointments Committee for the proposedIndependent Commission Against Corruption or ICAC, received strong feedback from participants duringthe ICAC consultation meeting in Lae recently.
Participants said if ICAC was to function without political influence, government involvement must be minimal or none at all.
The government proposed that ICAC be a constitutional body that is effective, and it was ready to give powers to ICAC to prosecute corrupt lLeadersand citizens inthe public sector.
However, concerns were raised duringthe ICAC Momase Regional Consultation meeting in Lae, regarding who should be inthe appointments committee. One participant said government and political influence on established organizations such asthe Ombudsman Commission andthe Public Prosecutor have produced no results. Even provisions inthe laws governingthese organizations limittheir abilities to fully function as watchdogs.
Underthe recommendations for an Appointments Committee, it’statesthe committee may comprisethe prime minister, opposition leader, Chief Justice, Police Commissioner and two members ofthe public.
Member for Belolo and Deputy Opposition Leader Sam Besil was present duringthe meeting. Speaking as a participantohe objected thatthe prime minister and opposition leader be involved.
Yetthe issue of funding ICAC remains debatable. Would government funding to ICAC influence its operation? One suggestion was to create a provision inthe law that government funding was non-negotiable; anther was to seek funding elsewhere in order to maintainthe independent concept of ICAC.
While participants supportedthe introduction of ICAC,there were recommendations to resource existing institutions instead of creating anther similar organization.
Existing institutions were also challenged duringthe meeting to start prosecuting corrupt public servants in order to regain public confidence inthe government’system.
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