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PNG PM Marape gives Assurance on New Act

Prime Minister (PM) James Marape has assured Papua New Guinea (PNG) that the management of the COVID-19 response will continue under the National Pandemic Act 2020 when the State of Emergency (SOE) ends tomorrow.

He said the National Operations Centre (NOC) will be known as the National Control Centre and will continue to operate but this time with the support of Provincial Control Centres now established by law under the new National Pandemic Act 2020.

Mr Marape said it is his view that Police Commissioner David Manning remains as the Controller under the new act.

The Prime Minister said the law is not meant to take away rights or freedom of the people. He said their rights and freedom remain; however, when the need arises upon advise and recommendation from Health and medical experts, certain restrictions will be put in place.

“We heard the cry of our people. They did not want the SOE to be extended. What do we do? Are we to be reckless to allow our country to be exposed? We had to find a balance not to extend the SOE but have in place an environment that gives us the ability to protect our country,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Marape also reaffirmed that the law has in place strong measures on procurement of goods and services and financial management including, making people criminally liable to stop abuse and misuse of public funds used in the COVID-19 operations.

“While the arrangement gives powers to the Controller, the Controller will have no unilateral power. There is a procurement committee in place to include the Treasury Secretary and the Finance Secretary and while the new law dispels use of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the law gives procurement guidelines in line with the PFMA. We do not intend to shift away from the PFMA and that there will be a report to be tabled in Parliament every time Parliament sits,” Mr Marape said.

The Prime Minister also assured citizens that there will be accountability and anyone found to have committed criminal offences will be criminally charged under the National Pandemic Act.

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