Why are PNG’s State Agencies Contributing to Political Fundraisers?

The Post-Courier reported on Monday that the PNG Party, led by Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah, raised about K2 million during their fundraiser over the weekend in Port Moresby in preparation for their campaign and operations in the upcoming General Election.

It was noted that guests had paid K25,000 per table to be present at the fundraising dinner at the Gateway Hotel, where the leaders of the ruling O’Namah coalition government were present. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill himself donated K150,000 to the PNG Party and acknowledged the support and confidence his coalition partners had shown in him.

The guest list included a significant number of corporates and law firms including Patrick’s Transport, Global Construction Ltd, L&A, Parua Lawyers and Bradshaw Lawyers among others.

It also included some more questionable guests, more specifically the PNG State agencies Petromin PNG and the National Housing Corporation – which begs the following question:

Why have these State agencies, in their capacity as state owned institutions, paid K25,000 of public money to attend a political fundraising event in support of a political party?

Let’s take a closer look at Petromin PNG.

Petromin PNG Holding Ltd is an independent company created by the Government to hold the State’s assets and to maximize indigenous ownership and revenue gains in the mineral and petroleum sectors.

Petromin PNG’s vision, mission statement and corporate objectives which together define its existence are absolutely clear. Nowhere on that list of guiding principles  is a clause stating that Petromin PNG will invest the people’s money into political fundraisers.

This isn’t the first case of a State agency making the decision to attend a political fundraising event via the purchasing of a table. The fact that this is a relatively ‘normal’ phenomena which has become accepted, even by media like the Post-Courier (this was the real story which seemed to go unnoticed) is concerning.

This lack of concern throws light on the urgent need for campaign finance disclosure laws to be introduced to PNG. Such laws could prohibit State employees from engaging in political activities, including soliciting political contributions, while on duty or acting in an official capacity.

These laws concerning public employees’ political activity should be introduced for three key reasons:

  1. To protect public employees from being coerced into providing political contributions or services in their employment;
  2. To protect individuals doing business with the public sector from being coerced into contributing to any political fund or rendering any political service; and
  3. To separate governmental activity from political campaign activities.

Such campaign finance laws should also prohibit paid state, provincial or town employees, other than elected officials, from directly or indirectly soliciting or receiving any contributions or anything of value for any political purpose.

“Political purpose” could include fundraising activity on behalf of any candidate or political committee, including parties or dinners, on any level – local, provincial or national.

It would be interesting to find out from the Boards of Petromin PNG and the National Housing Corporation as to what government activity they were helping to fulfill while proactively financially supporting the PNG Party.

I do concede that some exceptions must be made for public employees to help support their political party of choice – this makes sense and should exist; but there is absolutely no excuse why State agencies are making political contributions to political parties.

~ by Tavurvur on April 3, 2012.

9 Responses to “Why are PNG’s State Agencies Contributing to Political Fundraisers?”

  1. There are huge issues with this problem in PNG. Maybe another question which should be asked is whether or not a “cap” on financial budgets for campaigning should be introduced?

    People should understand that it should not be about the money – but it should be about the policy.

  2. If the Post Courier knew about these facts, why didn’t it eminate it the story. Sounds like a front page candidate to me. Is it becuase of fear of intimidation?? If so then where are we heading as country regarding freedom of expression and speech

  3. Hi Vincent, the Post-Courier certainly knew about this. They reported on the fact that the National Housing Corporation and Petromin PNG were present at the fundraiser.

    Their focus was on the K2 million raised for the PNG Party. It seems as if they’re either ignored the story, or simply didn’t realize it.

    Ignorance or stupidity?

  4. Maybe the Board’s of the National Housing Corporation and Petromin PNG should be questioned on this issue.

    Petromin is an independent company – but due to the fact that it deals with public assets, this should not disqualify it from being questioned about what is questionable expenditure.

  5. This is normal PNG Public Servise Style , pay the polys to keep your job.

    Whats new ?

    • That doesn’t mean that things should remain this way. One has to look closer at the reasons why the public service is like this.

      Sure, there are the obvious reasons of corruption and self-serving interests, but I think the problem is much more ingrained than just this.

      Legislation can be introduced to protect public service workers while simultaneously addressing this issue.

  6. Believe it, this is the so called movers and shakers png style. Vote them out is all I say.

  7. We have a lot of sick brothers,sisters,fathers and mother going overseas for medical treatment overseas especialy Australia.

    Could someone tell us if we have any PNG businessman or women based in Australia who might be able to assist this people.

    Or do we have any Papua New Guinean who owns a business in Australia ?

    • ‘Koita Mero’ – There is a substantial PNG community living and working in Australia- many of whom own their own businesses. I’m sure there are already informal networks which do help cater for what you are talking about. Whether there is a formal network is another thing altogether – it’s a good idea; maybe it’s something worth developing via a NGO or community-based association? Rgds, Tavurvur.

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