The O’Neill and Marape governments’ many years of pro-ICAC rhetoric without establishing a working organisation is probably the best guide to acknowledging that PNG is unlikely to see a viable ICAC any time soon
NOOSA - Papua New Guinea is moving slowly towards establishing a long-promised Independent Commission Against Corruption with the help of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC).
UNODC is supporting interim ICAC commissioner Thomas Eluh, who was appointed more than four years ago to deliver the PNG Anti-Corruption Project.
It is now expected that ICAC will begin the real work of fighting corruption in 2023.
The project, funded by the European Union, covers the development of management, recruitment, induction and staffing systems, the preparation of a code of conduct and a communication strategy.
A draft anti-corruption awareness and education strategy was developed in March 2022.
“Fighting corruption is very complex and requires a concerted effort from every citizen to have any chance of minimising this epidemic,” said Mr Eluh.
“If you want a corruption-free and safe tomorrow, I call on everyone now to assist ICAC in whatever way possible.
“We must try and eradicate corruption from society and save PNG from the clutches of corruption,” he said.
In a recent workshop, participants discussed key elements in establishing ICAC, the importance of an effective awareness and education strategy and fostering communication and collaboration between ICAC, civil society organisations and relevant government agencies.
Participants also addressed the topic of whether corruption affects women and men differently.
The main outcome of the workshops was that the interim ICAC will continue working on awareness programs in collaboration with civil society organisations CSOs and government agencies.
That the interim ICAC is still conducting discussions about implementing awareness programs after four years provides a clear view of the snail-like pace of PNG’s adoption of a robust anti-corruption body.
It throws a shadow over the PNG government’s commitment to fighting corruption.
Perhaps we will see a more energetic approach now that the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, UNDP and the European Union are collaborating in the PNG Anti-Corruption Project.
But the O’Neill and Marape governments’ many years of pro-ICAC rhetoric, workshops and discussions without establishing a working organisation is probably the best guide to acknowledging that PNG is unlikely to see a viable ICAC any time soon.
As Wikipedia succinctly notes: "Political corruption in PNG is largely enforced by political nepotism and the patronage system of governance.
"Elected leaders are inclined to seize and distribute resources amongst their electorates in order to secure and maintain popular support."