By EDDIE MOSES
TRANSPARENCY International PNG is developing a manual to analyse corruption in the forestry sector under its Forest Governance Integrity (FGI) Program.
The aim is to see a society where corruption free forest governance and sustainable management enables increased economic development, poverty reduction and environmental management.
Peter Aitsi, Chairman of TIPNG, told a Stakeholders Workshop on Friday, that the FGI project was about adding value to the campaign against illegal logging and corruption based on bringing together stakeholders with interests in the sector assessing the problems from their differing perspectives to forging a way forward.
He told the participating stakeholders that their input was crucial for the design of a monitoring tool to better effectively monitor, control and combat the spread of corruption in the Industry.
Aitsi said as a systemic problem, corruption can be found throughout our system of government; in the public service, private sector and throughout our provincial networks. "As a systematic problem, it is organized, its perpetrators are smart and know the system well enough to work around them, robbing the people of PNG of their future in the process," he said.
The Chairman said systematic corruption in this manner could be said to have first taken root in the forest sector. "The manipulation of export prices, the evasion of royalty payments, the abuse of 'prior informed consent' and the shameful deceit that makes this possible, requires a very clear headed and organized approach," he said.
He said the 'weed of corruption' was first recognized by the Barnett Commission in 1987-88, which led to the drastic strengthening of policy and legislative mechanism through the enactment of the Forestry Act 1991.
"Despite this, the noxious problem has spread to many levels since then. We believe it has taken root in the halls of Government and the Bureaucracy, choking the integrity out of the system. TIPNG's opinion is that the' weed of corruption' that has overtaken the halls of power now has a solid grip on all other aspects of the governance and management of the country," Aitsi said.
He said TIPNG w as deeply concerned that the government's 2007 ratification of the United Nations' Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) will be meaningless without any action taken to implement its necessary articles, including the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
The Forest Governance and Integrity program is an initiative of the TI Secretariat in Berlin, in response to rampant illegal logging in tropical countries, particularly the Asia-Pacific region. It is a regional project with PNG being one of five countries taking part, the others being the Solomon Islands, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. The regional project is headquartered is in Indonesia.