By JONATHAN TANOS
PAPUA New Guineas credentials as a developing country and leading advocate of climatic change in Copenhagen are in shatters.
Foremost is the officially unannounced abolition of its own Office of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability (OCC&ES) just weeks before the Copenhagen meeting unlike all international major players including the United States (US), China, Japan, Britain, Germany and other leading industrialised countries.
The Government never officially announced the abolishing of the OCC&ES.
And despite PNGs sterling performance during the 2005 Bali meeting in Indonesia with the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, outplaying his bigger global leaders on climate change initiatives, PNG has just made an about-turn abolishing its own office.
In addition the Government is spending K5 million on overseas climate change consultants, and is paying K2 million less at K3 million for the total cost of PNG;s 30-member delegation to Copenhagen. And just before the delegation was endorsed, K3.2 million was approved to be paid out to 70 former staff of the (OCC&ES), who must now find new employment opportunities elsewhere.
In addition Finance Secretary has been directed by the National Executive Council (NEC) to appropriate K7.5 million to establish functions of the OCC&ES within the Department of Environment and Conservation. Under the same direction the former functions of the OCC&ES will be controlled by the Office of the Prime Minister and the NEC under the new management arrangements.
Coupled with all that, the Government is faced with a law suit from former chief executive officer (CEO) of OCC&ES, Dr Theo Yasause, whose contract of employment was declared null and void by the NEC over alleged breaches of Section 193 of the Constitution and consequently the Public Services Management Act.
The PNG delegation will leave today, two days late from the opening of the global summit. Both the Government and the Opposition sources confirmed to the Post-Courier yesterday that the National Executive Council (NEC) wavered provisions of the Public and Finance Management Act to engage its overseas consultants to provide PNG advice for the Copenhagen meeting without going through the Public Services and Tenders Board (PSTB). In relation to PNGs Copenhagen talks, sources said it had been diminished by its abolition of the OCC&ES. In Waigani, NEC documents show directives to the Department of Personnel Management to abolish all OCC&ES positions, declare a redundancy situation and retrench all officers. The documents also shows that the former responsibilities of the OCC&ES be undertaken by the Office of the Prime Minister and NEC. A directive was given to Finance Secretary, Simon Tosali, to find the money required to effect payments for Copenhagen and the K3.2 payout for former OCC&ES employees.
The Secretary for Environment and Conservation with the Secretary for Personnel Management re-organise the top structure of the OCC&ES to finance its continued services with financing to be derived from the PMs Department and NEC.