SACK "CORRUPT" LEADERS, PNG’S KAMBANEI URGES PM MORAUTA

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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 25, 2002 -- The National)---The Government's chief public accountant, Thaddeus Kambanei, has called on Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to "come good" and rid the government of leaders who have misused government funds.

This unprecedented call by a senior public servant comes amid the war on corruption by the Media Council of Papua New Guinea and in response to Sir Mekere's opening speech at the two-day conference on "Governance and Accountability" held in Port Moresby's Holiday Inn Hotel last week.

Sir Mekere said he supported the Media Council's campaign, although it came many years too late and the issue of governance and accountability was a "topic close to my heart and to my objectives as Prime Minister."

Mr. Kambanei, the First Assistant Secretary of Public Accounts in the Department of Treasury, called on Sir Mekere to "come good" by dealing with ministers and leaders who have committed crimes like misuse of public funds. Such people should not hold high public office, he said when closing the conference on Friday.

Mr. Kambanei said many of the people who have misused public monies are Parliamentarians.

"There must be political reform at the highest level. We want to see bigger reforms in the Public Service and Sir Mekere must come good," said Mr. Kambanei.

Mr. Kambanei knows what he is talking about, as he is the man responsible for all Government checks that leave the Treasury and he also investigates abuse of public funds.

"We want a change of culture. . . a new way of thinking," Mr. Kambanei added.

Mr. Kambanei was addressing a packed conference hall with over 400 public accountants in attendance. They came from all 20 provinces, 89 Open Electorates and local-level governments.

Mr. Kambanei told them he would not apologies for his comments and went on to challenge his officers to make an impact on the coming general elections by ensuring that good leaders get into Parliament.

He challenged the participants to "choose the right leaders to enforce the reform we are talking about" at this conference.

"The future of PNG is in your hands. Election is only five months away. Make the right choice of leadership for the future of PNG," he said.

Mr. Kambanei's call for a change and a new culture in the public sector was preceded by a similar message by New South Wales Auditor General Bob Sendt on Thursday.

In his address, Mr. Sendt said there must be openness, integrity and accountability in the areas of good governance and accountability among leaders in the public sector.

Mr. Sendt said there were two criteria against which leaders should judge their efforts: one which involved openness, integrity and accountability while the other was on how well the arrangements met the overall accountability needs of Parliament.

The conference was timely -- amid the anti-corruption campaign -- as it provided an occasion where a number of key speakers spoke on the need for accountability in the public sector.

It was the first of its kind to have been organized by the Department of Treasury and a jubilant Mr. Kambanei described the turnout and participation as "utterly magnificent."

All the conference papers were outstanding in quality and speakers came from as far away as Australia. Many of the speakers were leading advocates of reform and continuing development for public sector executives and their staff.

All aspects of improvements to the systems of governance and accountability in the public sector to make them more effective and efficient were discussed in the papers.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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