The Ombudsman Commission wishes to remind all parties concerned that it has lifted in its entirety, the Direction of 13th November 2017 to freeze all development grants of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The Ombudsman Commission on 13 November 2017 issued the Direction under Section 27(4) of the Constitution for the Members Constituency Support Grants and Members Constituency Development Grants not release, disburse, transfer and/or receive unless and until there was compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constituency Development Grants Program Manual, the Guidelines on the Members
Operational Grant and Development Grant as well as the Bougainville Public Finance (Management and Administration) Act 2014 and the Bougainville Central Supplies and Tenders Act 2014 and such other terms and conditions of Constituency Support Grants and Development Grants Manual and Guidelines that govern the use of the Members Constituency Support Grants and Members Constituency Development Grants.
The Direction was issued after complaints were lodged with the Ombudsman Commission alleging gross irregularities in dealing with the public funds belonging to the people of Bougainville.
The Commission was concerned that leaders were not complying with the Bougainville Public Finance (Management and Administration) Act 2014 and the Bougainville Central Supplies and Tenders Act 2014 and Guidelines that govern the use of the Members Constituency Support Grants and Members Constituency Development Grants.
On 16 April 2018 after the Ombudsman Commission received reports of partial compliance, it varied the terms of its Direction by lifting the freeze on the Members of the House of Representatives Constituency Allowance while the Freeze on Constitutional Development grant remained until each and every Member and or the Constituency complied fully by:-
- establishing a Constituency Bank Cheque Account; and
- establishing a Constituency Development Grant Steering Committee to screen and approve each application for funding in strict compliance with the manual; and
- acquitting the Constituency Development Grant for 2015, 2016 and 2017 component that were paid before the Constitutional Direction was issued by providing all relevant information to the Parliamentary Services headed by the Clerk of the House of the Bougainville House of Representatives, and to be coordinated by the Director of Finance and Administration, Office of the Clerk.
In April 2019 after receiving confirmation from the Office of the Clerk of the Bougainville House of Representatives that all Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives had fully complied with the terms of the Commission’s Direction of 13 November 2017 and upon Commission’s satisfaction that the requirement of the Constituency Development Grants and Development Grants Manual and Guidelines,
had been complied with, the Direction of 13 November 2017 was lifted in its entirety.
The Direction of 13 November 2017 was issued to:
- The President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville; and
- The speaker of the House of Representatives; and
- The Vice President; and
- All Autonomous Bougainville Government Members of the House of Representatives including the thirty-three (33) Members representing the thirty-three (33) Constituencies; Three Women Members representing the interests of Women from the North, Central and South Regions; the three former Combatants representing the interests of Former Combatants from the North, Central and South Regions; and
- The Chief Secretary of the Bougainville Autonomous Government; and
- Minister for Finance and Treasury of the Bougainville Autonomous Government; and
- Secretary for Department of Finance and Treasury of the Bougainville Autonomous Government; and
- The Chief Executive Officers; Managing Directors; General Managers of the Commercial Banks; and
- All servants and agents of (1) to (8) above.
The thrust of the Commission’s Direction that was issued on 13 November 2017 was to ensure compliance with stringent Internal Control Measures on all Autonomous Bougainville Government Accounts and also to ensure that disbursements of all public funds must comply with the relevant laws and administrative guidelines which are in place.
The Ombudsman Commission’s Direction gives support to the development initiatives of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Members of the House of Representatives for its ongoing peace building efforts in preparation for the referendum and its political future.