The Police Commissioner has issued directions to begin criminal investigations into the conduct of senior Health Department officers implicated in the Public Accounts Committee inquiry.
In a joint conference with Health Minister, Jelta Wong and secretary Pascoe Kase, Commissioner David Manning, said the Public Accounts committee has identified officers who could have criminal charges laid against them.
“I have established a special investigation team which is investigating a number of high profile cases including 40 cases as alluded to by the former police commissioner…These are experienced investigators who have been brought in from other units.”
The Public Account’s Committee headed by Sir John Pundari and Oro Governor, Gary Juffa, are set to resume their investigations into the ongoing medicine shortages throughout Papua New Guinea.
Their inquiries established that companies with no prior experience in drug distribution were given multimillion kina contracts.
Of particular interest to the Police investigators are evidences that senior health officials demanded bribes and received various payments ranging from K20,000 and K70,000.
It has been a highly embarrassing episode for the Health Department with revelations of extensive corruption under Secretary Pascoe Kase’s watch. While Kase, on several occasions during the PAC hearing, indicated he had no knowledge of the conduct of his officers, he says he is willing to assist police. He gone further to announce he will suspend officers involved in the corruption.
“Under the public management law, if there are allegations against officers and they are serious, they will be suspended pending investigations” he said.
Health Minister, Jelta Wong said the Department of Health and the Police will work together to ensure illegal actions by public officials are investigated and prosecuted.
“It is important that we clean up the system so it is free from any perceived corrupt practices in the discharge of its responsibilities to serve the people better” he said.
Commissioner Manning has given assurances that the police will carry out a thorough investigation.
“During the course of criminal investigation, if there are other inquiries, we will look into”, he said.
The Inquiry, broadcast live on EMTV Online, triggered a public outcry with many Papua New Guineans demanding imprisonment for officers found guilty.
Pamela Barara – EMTV News Cadet Journalist