The Appointment Committee for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) met again in Port Moresby as the formation of the ICAC continues to proceed as planned.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape stressed the need for the government to fight the ‘disease of corruption’. He urged the Appointments Committee to move forward as fast as possible before the National General Elections.

The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister and hosted by the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG). Also attending the meeting were ICAC Interim Chairman Thomas Eluh, Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, Attorney General Dr Eric Kwa, and several senior DJAG officials.

There were discussions about the ICAC’s checks, balance, administrative mechanisms, reporting structure, and composition. The meeting also looked at other legal and administrative requirements, including issues such as recruitment.

According to Marape, two pieces of legislation – the Whistle-Blowers Act and the Undisclosed Wealth Act – will help operationalise the Commission’s work once it is running. The strict processes agreed by the Committee will be made public once the ICAC is ready to begin operations.

DJAG’s efforts follow the department sponsoring a record number of bills over the last couple of years that Parliament consequently enacted. This has led to a rise in Papua New Guinea’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International.

According to Thomas Eluh, the ICAC’s Interim Chairman, the work done by DJAG has resulted in the country rising from 142nd (out of 180 nations) to 126th on the 2021 Corruption Perception Index.

Concerning the decrease in corruption, Mr Eluh said, “This is a massive drop in one year, highlighting the positive and strong efforts of the Marape Government in tackling rampant corruption in the country. The full operationalisation of ICAC will further improve PNG’s grading on the CPI.”

PM Marape said that the 2021 CPI rating was a positive step for the country and the government, but there was room for improvement. He urged DJAG, the ICAC, the Appointment Committee, and other integrity organisations to continue improving Papua New Guinea’s ranking until it reached double digits.

The Prime Minister also asked DJAG to improve and enhance legislative and administrative systems for the Golden Jubilee festivities in 2025, when the country celebrates its 50th birthday.