PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 21, 2009) – The blueprint for good practices and behaviour in Bougainville reads like an ideal example for all governments to adopt. Newly-installed President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, James Tanis, has made a flying start to his short-term in office, having unveiled the new standards for his government.

The document looks outstanding. He has told all ministers and members of the ABG that they have to comply with the standards.

A few samples: They must declare their assets and liabilities including equity in any companies held by ministers or on their behalf. These lists will go to the Chief Ombudsman and a copy on a confidential basis to the ABG’s chief administrator.

Ministers, the standards document stipulates, will not take investment proposals to the region’s executive council without being considered and recommended by the investment screening committee and the relevant division of the Bougainville administration.

No minister shall travel outside the region without first getting the President’s clearance. No minister shall sign a document which commits the ABG to any contract, agreement or public position without getting approval of the cabinet and/or the President.

No minister will travel at the expense of any third party unless there are "compelling reasons’’ and with prior approval from the President. No minister will see any investor or potential investor without the administrator of relevant chief executive officer being there.

These are outstanding principles on which to conduct government business. Of course they are just words and the proof will be in the enforcement of these standards and the punishment of those found to offend.

Mr. Tanis has a hard act to follow, that of the very charismatic Joseph Kabui. If he imposes these standards and makes them stick, there is hope that the veil of controversy hanging over recent conduct will be lifted and thoroughly scrubbed and cleansed of the taints of impropriety.

Now, the collective challenge is on all of its people to ensure that individual brilliance and hard work can be harnessed and that discipline is imposed to ensure a bright future for the recovering island region.

The people of Bougainville, having gone through the most horrendous civil war of recent memory in the Pacific, are entitled to expect adherence to high standards by their leaders.

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