13 Jan 2015

PNG minister justifies emergency over power bills

1:08 pm on 13 January 2015

The Papua New Guinea Public Enterprises Minister says the country's state of emergency is lawful despite accusations to the contrary.

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Ben Micah declared a 60-day state of emergency last week in an attempt to collect some of the nearly 50 million US dollar debt owed to PNG Power Limited.

The government says 30 percent of the power was used illegally by a large section of the community, including many departments and ministries.

Opposition MPs have said the emergency measure is illegal and unconstitutional because it is designed for national crises.

But Mr Micah says there are three grounds for declaring a state of emergency.

"One is in a state of war. The second one is in a state of natural disaster and the third one is when there is a situation where essential services are being affected by groups or persons that threaten essential services. We invoked the Essential Services Act and electricity is one of those services.

The minister says nearly four million US dollars worth of overdue residential bills have now been paid and the Secretary of Finance has transferred money to pay for debts from the previous administration.

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