The Autonomous Bougainville Government has sent its strongest message yet that it is cracking down on corruption as part of getting referendum ready. Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau, in his six-month update to the people this week said corruption must stop now. “Four more Department Heads have been petitioned for allegations of serious misconduct, matters that are now subject to Independent Boards of Inquiry established under the Bougainville Senior Appointments Act,” Mr Nobetau said. “Corruption is not only against the law. It is stealing from Bougainville – it is selling out on our dream, our future, and the idea that we are destined for a higher level of behaviour.” The Chief Secretary said one of the biggest issues faced this year has been the uncovering of mass payroll fraud. “An independent audit by the National Departments of Personnel Management and Finance has now revealed our worst fears,” Mr Nobetau said. “Bougainvillean public servants have been stealing from government and selling out Bougainville over many years – claiming allowances they were not entitled to, paying salaries well in excess of their classification level, paying themselves and not turning up for work.” Mr Nobetau said the administration was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Minister for Public Service, who said the fraud was nothing short of theft. With just nine months until Bougainville’s target referendum date and the need to demonstrate good governance to the international community, the Chief Secretary has made an impassioned plea to fellow public servants, politicians and the people. “I am committed to ensuring that the fraud squad investigates these matters and that where criminality is found, that individuals be held to account. Nobody is above the law. Nobody has the right to take what is not rightfully theirs. And nobody has to right to steal from law abiding Bougainvilleans. To do so brings shame to the person, to their family and Bougainville as whole.” “I want to assure tax payers and proud Bougainvilleans that those responsible for this fraud will be held to account and that we will do better.” “Changes had already been made to ensure the payroll fraud never happens again.” “The good news is that our eyes are not closed and we will not look the other way. The majority are better than that, the majority want a brighter future for Bougainville.” “I expect that in time both disciplinary and criminal charges will be made.” The Chief Secretary said since removing ‘ghosts’ from the payroll had given the government more money for public services like clinics, schools and roads. Mr Nobetau said changing attitudes and mindsets as part of government reform was not easy, but was Bougainville’s aspirations under the Bougainville Peace Agreement. “We are on a united but difficult mission to move Bougainville from a provincial government to an autonomous government to preparing for Bougainville’s future political status.” “We cannot do that while public servants are busy lining their pockets with public money.” President Momis said he fully supported the Chief Secretary and that under the Organic Law on Leadership he was obligated to report all possible breaches. “The Chief Secretary has my support to continue to liaise with the Ombudsman Commission to ensure the highest standards of good governance under the Bougainville Peace Agreement,” Mr Momis said.
[ Back to News ]