The Lower Watut Cocoa Cooperative is set to become the next biggest agriculture movement in the Morobe Province. Each month, the 16 cluster groups produce an average of 30 bags each raking in about K200,000 when cocoa prices are good. Even without road access, It is estimated that about 2 million kina in cash circulates witin the lower Watut Area.
Public forums being held by the Ombudsman Commission to seek views on changes to their enabling legislating have drawn strong calls for harsher penalties on corrupt leaders.
The Ombudsman Commission is holding the forums all over the country to seek public input on changes to the laws that govern them. The OC, also the arm of government that administers leadership tribunals, has received wide ranging calls for stronger penalties on leaders found guilty of offences including theft of public money.
Ombudsman, Phoebe Sangetari, points out that it’s a reflection of general public sentiment stemming from laws that have not evolved with the changes in the country.
“many feel that the penalties are in sufficient and they want harsher penalties imposed upon leaders who err.”
The laws governing the Ombudsman Commission were made 40 years ago and are still being used today despite their ineffectiveness in the 21st century.
Given the financial muscle of today’s public office holders, some sections of the laws are useless.
For instance if a leader is found guilty but not dismissed, the leadership tribunal can fine him a maximum of K1000 for each offence or impose a K500 kina “good behavior” bond.
The first challenge is to get the legislative changes finalized. Challenge number 2 – and perhaps the most important – is to get the politicians to agree to laws that may come back to bite them sometime in the future.