ACT NOW! has been campaigning for the establishment of a fully funded Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since 2010.
Although an ICAC alone cannot address all the problems that PNG faces with corruption, a dedicated anti-corruption agency is essential as the existing institutions, including the Royal Constabulary and the Ombudsman Commission, have failed to control white-collar crime.
The final laws necessary for the establishment of an ICAC were passed by Parliament in November 2020, but a functioning ICAC is still to be established.
Although Mr Thomas Eluh has been appointed as an interim Chairman to lead the setting up of the ICAC and a basic website has been established, the critical steps of appointing the first Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners, establishing an office to house the Commission staff and securing a sufficient budget have not been completed.
Attempts to establish an ICAC go back more than twenty years. A draft ICAC Bill was first developed in 1997, but a lack of political support meant it was not passed by Parliament.
In 2011, the Government developed draft legislation to establish an ICAC. However, that legislation was not even tabled in Parliament.
In 2012, the incoming government pledged to establsih an ICAC but moved very slowly and failed to fully implement that promise.
In June 2013, the government released a set of consultation documents and ACT NOW! responded to the call for public submissions.
In November 2013, Parliament passed the law amending the Constitution to allow for the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption. This was the first piece of legislation needed in the process of establsihing an ICAC.
In November 2015, Parliament passed the first reading of the second law required to allow the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption. This legislation defined how an ICAC will function. But crucially, the final votes on the legislation were never held.
In 2017, the new government again pledged to establish an ICAC but that never materialised - despite a public petition organised by ACT NOW!
In 2019, a new draft Bill was published and began its passage through Parliament.
In July 2020, ACT NOW! made a submission on the draft Bill to the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Laws, Acts and Subordinate Legislation, warning the new ICAC may not be fully politically independent.
On November 12, 2020, the ICAC Bill was, finally, unanimously passed by Parliament. Since then the steps to set up the Commission have proceeded at a glacial pace.
The establishment of an ICAC is one of twenty-two Policy Proposals that ACT NOW! has developed to help ensure PNG has an open and transparent government. These measures have been identified through extensive research, benchmarking international best practice and wide consultation. If adopted, these measures could increase economic growth and boost the economy.