Papua New Guinea
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Namah queries continuing role of SOE controller

The Attorney General Pila Niningi has been asked to explain the source of Police Commissioner David Manning’s continuing powers as Controller of the Pandemic State of Emergency.

Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah said this when he noted the recent move by Commissioner Manning who “relied on those powers to direct the Central Bank and Puma Energy to resolve the fuel crisis”.

All actions by the Controller of the State of Emergency from the time Parliament failed to extend the State of Emergency can now be held to be ultra vires the Constitution, he said.

“From my reading of the National Constitution Section 237 (Automatic Terminal of Emergency Law etc) and Section 238 (Extension of Emergency Law), those powers have lapsed more than a year ago and no longer exist,” Mr Namah said.

“And those powers come from the National Constitution or from the National Parliament, both of which can continue or rescind a State of Emergency, in this case the government failed to bring the matter to Parliament and Parliament failed to continue the SOE and its regulations lapsed some time back in 2022.”

His comments come after Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso said the Puma Energy fuel saga is complex and has urged all parties involved to put the people of Papua New Guinea first whilst dialogue continues to find long lasting solutions to this critical issue.

Mr Rosso said preliminary investigations which started last year by multiple government agencies have not found any evidence of wrongdoing by Puma Energy, however, BPNG and Customs are continuing further detailed investigations and these reports will be furnished within the next couple of weeks. to further clarify the issue.

“Now that Puma is complying, we focus the government’s attention on ensuring that other parties comply with directives within the confines of the law, to find solutions – short-term and long-term – for the benefit of our country and our people.”

Puma Energy has agreed to utilise its stock of fuel for emergency use to ensure supply of fuel till Tuesday, whilst dialogue continues to reach a long-term solution.

Mr Namah, however, in a statement said: “The National Pandemic Act may continue in force but a National State of Emergency cannot and that is very clear.

Whenever the provisions of an Act are in conflict or at variance with the National Constitution, it is the inferior law (the Act) which must be struck down by automatic operation of the law.

“This is the case that now confronts the government and the National Parliament.

The executive government failed to brief Parliament at the intervals required by law.

Consequently, Parliament has not extended the State of Emergency as required by the National Constitution and the State of Emergency lapsed sometime back in 2022.

The government and its agents can no longer claim or use emergency powers to procure goods and services, direct or authorise financial commitments or compel citizens and organisations to adhere to instructions,” he said.