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First Sitting of CoI into UBS Loan takes place without Counsel and Solicitors

Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the UBS Loan this morning says the unavailability of Counsel and solicitors for this opening sitting does not pose any major difficulty as this commission will be able to deal with preparatory work for the Commission to sit in early 2020 to conduct it actual inquiry in terms of receiving evidence.

Sir Salamo Injia made this statement during the first sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into the processes and procedures followed by the National Government in obtaining the off shore Loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland.

The commission sat without the Counsel assisting the Commission and Solicitors supporting Counsel and the Commission.

Chairman of the COI Sir Salamo Injia and John Gilmore QC were present this morning.

According to Sir Salamo the Counsel’s unavailability is due to late advice received by this Commission on the 05th of November 2019 from the State Solicitor that the Solicitor General has not responded to his request for assistance to obtain admissions and practicing certificates under the Lawyers Act for overseas counsel.

He adds the unavailability of a firm of solicitors is due to the delay in a decision to be made by the Board of the National Procurement Commission.

“A Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee constituted by the NPC met and completed its report and recommendations on the 27th November. “ This commission was advised that the NPC Board would meet on 03rd December but did not due to lack of quorum for the meeting. This commission was advised that the Board will meet next week,” he said.

At today’s hearing the Commission issued an interim list of witnesses be called to give evidence, fix a return date of summonses that it will issue as from today and set out a road map for the conduct of the inquiry, made a statement on the funding situation for the six months extended grace period and deal with an application for leave to appear that has been filed by an interested party.

The Return Date of Summonses will be on the 27th of January 2020 at 9;30am and all witnesses that are either requested or summoned by the Commission to appear must attend the hearing.

The Commission has also put forward a Road Map for the conduct of the actual inquiry in 2020 where Issue Of Summons will be from the 16th-31st December 2019, Return of Summons Monday 27th January 2020 at 9:30am.

Investigation phase by Counsel, Solicitors and other technical officers will be from February to March 2020.

Public Hearing will be from April to May 2020, Report Writing is in June while Report Delivery Phase will be on the 27th July 2020.

The Commission has also determined that the extended 6months inquiry period for the inquiry, approved by Prime Minister on the 18th of September 2019 will commence to run from the date of the date of the actual Inquiry on the 27th of January 2020 and finish on the 27th of July 2020 when the report of the Commission is completed and delivered to the Prime Minister for presentation to parliament.

Meanwhile while Sir Salamo says the initial funding occasioned by the extended period of inquiry and the appointment of overseas Commissioner, Counsel and Solicitors is apparent.

“This commission is yet to receive an additional K27million approved by the Prime Minister on 18th September 2019,” he said

(Picture; (L) Chairman of COI Sir Salamo Injia and (R) John Gilmour, QC.)

FM 100 / PNG Today

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