Prime Minister Hon. James Marape reaffirmed the Government’s steadfast dedication to the Law and Justice Sector, exemplified by a substantial increase of K410 million in the 2023 Budget. This remarkable surge of 28.9 per cent stands as the most significant funding injection the sector has ever received.
Prime Minister Marape said this on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, while warmly welcoming the Parliamentary Statement delivered by Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Hon. Pila Niningi.
“In the 2023 Budget, my administration has allocated an additional K401 million to the Law and Justice Sector, marking a remarkable 28.9 per cent escalation from the previous year, and setting a precedent for the highest increment ever,” Prime Minister Marape articulated.
“This allocation sends a resounding message that our Government is unwavering in its commitment to ensuring community safety, fostering peace, and upholding justice across the nation.
“Minister Niningi presented to me 16 primary Key Result Areas (KRAs), all of which I have endorsed. I am pleased to highlight that the majority of them are already in motion.”
Key Highlights from the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, as highlighted by Minister Niningi, include:
• The enactment of the Lands Commission Act 2022, effective as of September 2, 2022, leading to the consolidation of the National Lands Commission and the Land Titles Commission into the newly established Lands Commission.
• Active involvement of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General and the State-Solicitor in offering legal counsel and approval for the Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Papua New Guinea.
• An unprecedented policy decision by the National Executive Council (NEC) to bolster the Judiciary’s capacity to address the backlog of criminal and civil cases.
• Approval of funding by the NEC to increase the number of judges from 40 to 60, with an enhanced allocation of K232 million in 2023 and an additional K310 million slated for 2024. This allocation will significantly contribute to the resolution of the backlog of cases.
• Ongoing infrastructure development by the Judiciary to establish modern court facilities nationwide.
• Drafting of a bill by the State-Solicitor and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to establish robust arbitration processes for domestic industrial and international commercial disputes.
• Significant cost savings by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, amounting to over K4 billion in potential judgment debts in 2022. Furthermore, the State-Solicitor cleared projects and contracts valued at K489 million in 2022.
• Provision of approximately 200 legal advisories for the 2022 National General Election through the State Solicitor and the Solicitor-General.
• Approval of improved terms and conditions for State lawyers, including the Solicitor-General, State Solicitor, Public Prosecutor, and Public Solicitor.
• Enactment of the Organic Law on Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
• Ongoing reforms concerning the Proceeds of Crime Act and Whistleblower Regulations to combat unexplained wealth.
• Establishment of the Social and Law and Order Sector (SLOS) to facilitate collaboration among various government departments and agencies in the realm of social and law enforcement matters.
• Enactment of the Attorney-General (Amendment) Act 2022 and the Claims By and Against the State (Amendment) Act 2022.
• Substantial budget increase for Magisterial Services to facilitate the ongoing Magisterial Services reforms, including an expansion in the number of magistrates. The allocated budget for Magisterial Services has risen from K51 million in 2022 to K91 million in 2023.
• Acknowledgement of 1,680 Village Court Areas and 18,480 Village Court Officials throughout the country, with K55 million allocated in 2023 for Village Court Officials’ allowances. However, due to the increased number of officials, an additional K26 million is required for allowances.
• Allocation of K4.5 million for the allowances of 1,424 Land Mediators across the nation.
• Allocation of K10 million to the Legal Training Institute for the construction of a state-of-the-art training facility for aspiring lawyers.
• Augmentation of the budget for the Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2023, enabling the recruitment of more criminal lawyers for prosecution and enhanced support for increased court circuits.