| Academia Nomad
PORT MORESBY - Are the District Development Act (DDA Act) and the Kumul Consolidated Limited Act (KCL Act) unconstitutional?
At the recent national development forum organised by the Consultation, Implementation, Monitoring & Implementation Council, Papua New Guinea’s chief justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, called both acts “bad laws.”
The DDA Act and the KCL Act are responsible for millions, perhaps billions, of kina flowing to the institutions these laws created.
The 96 DDAs created by the DDA Act control about K960 million a year of District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) funds.
Whilst the actual amount fluctuates, prime minister James Marape hinted earlier this year that the amount would be doubled.
The auditor-general complained early this year that 40% of members of parliament didn’t acquit the funds they had received.
Kumul Consolidated also receives millions, if not billions, of kina in dividends from various companies in which the state is a shareholder.
These include state owned enterprises, oil and gas companies, mineral companies, agencies such as National Fisheries Authority and PNG Ports, and others like Bank South Pacific (BSP).
So what did the Sir Gibbs mean by “bad laws”?
He didn’t go into detail, but he may have implied that the laws are unconstitutional.
However, neither the supreme court nor judges can intervene unilaterally to rule that a law passed by parliament is unconstitutional.
A person with standing would need to take the matter to the supreme court to ask the court to interpret the constitutionality of both laws.
Among others, MPs would have standing recognised by the court as people able to seek the court’s interpretation.
But if MPs do that and the court rules the DDA Act unconstitutional, they will lose K10 million a year to spend at their discretion.
So it’s now up to the other individuals who would be recognised by the supreme court as having standing and so bring these matters before the court.