MPs Urged To Reject Extended Grace Period In PNG

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Namah claims bill would cover-up government corruption

By Shirlyn Belden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 1, 2013) – Opposition leader Belden Namah has issued a stern warning to PNG parliamentarians to reject the extension of the government’s grace period to avoid regrets in future.

The 12-month extension to the current 18 months, after which a vote of no-confidence can be passed on the government’s performance, was an attempt to cover up corruption and mismanagement by the government, Namah claimed.

He said supporting the bill could allow voluntary exile for MPs, which they would regret later.

Namah’s call came in the lead-up to the next sitting of parliament on Tuesday, when the 30-month grace period bill will be heard for the third and final time before being passed.

Namah, accompanied by his deputy and MP for Wau-Bulolo, Sam Basil, appealed to the other ministers yesterday to reconsider their positions.

"The question, therefore, is why is the prime minister rushing to extend the grace period so soon? This government’s record on transparency and good governance in particular in just six months in our opinion is seriously wanting and is a cause for concern," Namah said.

"It is incumbent upon all representatives of the people not to voluntarily exile the people’s power and right to censor and keep the government in check at all times.

"We warn our colleague MPs as well as political parties in the government that once you vote to give the 30 months’ grace period, you are weakening your negotiating and bargaining powers with the prime minister.

He said this could lead to MPs not talking and debating about decisions made by the prime minister as they would fear termination of portfolios or reduction of funds and other government support for their electorates.

Namah said the government should prove to parliament and the people that it deserved their respect instead of moving to have the parliament go into a lock-down for 30 months so it could do whatever it desired without censorship.

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