Introductory Statement.

The Office of the Public Curator and Office of the Public Curator and Official Trustee of Papua New Guinea is an Independent Statutory Office established by an Act of parliament. It is managed and run by the Public Curator and Official Trustee of Papua New Guinea who is appointed by the Minister for Justice. The Public Curator and Official Trustee reports to the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General of Papua New Guinea, and the Secretary for Finance in the overall discharged of his/her Statutory Duties. He also reports all non-Statutory administrative duties as branch head to the Departmental Secretary for Justice and Attorney General (if the Justice Minister in not an admitted Lawyer.

STATUTORY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

The office of the Public Curator and Official Trustee is vested with Statutory Powers to administer several legislations which either falls respectively under Public Curators Responsibilities or Official Trustees Responsibilities:

  • Under the Public Curators Responsibilities, the Public Curators Act and the Wills Probate and Administration Act are administered. These two legislations govern the Administration of Deceased, Insane or Missing person’s Estates in Papua New Guinea or naturalized citizen of the country that demise abroad. The dominant responsibility of the Public Curator covers administration of the Estates of Deceased persons who die “intestate” (someone who dies without a written will) 98.0% of Papua New Guineans die intestate
  • Under the Official Trustee’s responsibilities, the Public Curator perform Trusteeship duties pertaining to Persons Declared Insolvent, Manages Minors Trust deeds for children under the age of 21 or other Trustee Responsibilities as stipulated for under the Trustees Act and any other Act that may stipulate a role for the National Official Trustee.

GOAL AND OBJECTIVE OF THE ORGANISATION.

Following justify existence of the office of Public Curator as Official Trustee of Papua New Guinea.

  1. Its Mission statements.
  • To provide Honest, Transparent Trusteeship to the people of PNG in Deceased estate Trust, Minors Trust, Insolvent Persons Trust, Mentally Insane Persons Trust, Missing Persons Estates Trust, General Trust services.
  • To win and maintain the Public’s Trust for trusteeship Services.
  1. Its Objectives.
  • Accountable feedback.
  1. Its Vision.
  • To create an environment conducive for Faith, Hope, Trust and Assurance to provide a transparent and efficient service delivery system to clients.

OFFICE ADMINISTRATION AND STAFFING

Staffing

The office of Public Curator currently have staff strength of twenty (29) of which eleven (11) are unfunded and eighteen fully funded. The recruitment plan for 2010/2011 will see a full establishment structure of 47 fully funded positions. All positions were considered by the HRM branch of the Department of Justice already in 2010 for funding.

Regional Offices.

There are four (4) regional offices in the country:-

BOROKO

Office is responsible for the Southern region, which include Milne Bay,   Oro, Central, Gulf and Western Provinces.

RABAUL

Office is responsible for the New Guinea Islands including North Solomon.

LAE

Office is responsible for the Momase Region.

MT HAGEN

Office is responsible for the Highlands Region.

Past Administration.

According to record and from former Public Curator by 1990, the Office had administered without record well over 20,000 estates out of over 100,000 deaths that were never reported officially. However, owing to the continuous “lack of adequate and professional staff”, the Office continued to suffer from management and operational problems and administrative breakdown of the entire estate records and operational procedure. Proper accounting and administrative procedure was absence in the administration and accountability to the estates was at lowest or almost nil.

The resultant effect was mismanagement, corruption and administrative breakdown which paved way for embezzlement of funds through forgery, fraud and misappropriation, all resulting from the same horror that had been haunting the office since the colonial era.

Inquiry and Review by Public Accounts Committee and Auditor   General

On 13 April 2005, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) commenced an inquiry into the Public Curators office. During the inquiry it was unanimously resolved that a Special Audit Investigation be undertaken by the Auditor General on the operation of the Public Curator. The special audit was based on Terms of Reference issued by the PAC and entailed the examination of compliance with enabling legislation and governance concerns regarding the analysis of financial and other transaction predominantly from 1999 onwards.

A thorough audit of the office was undertaken in terms of powers and function of the Public Curator in accordance with the enabling legislation. Significant finding was made by the Auditor General of the status of the office, its failures and non-compliance with the relevant enabling legislations. This detailed report (Auditor General's Report on the Special Audit Investigation of the Office of Public Curator) was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to be tabled in Parliament. The Public Curator adopts this report as the true and accurate state of the Office to date. The Public Curator also endorsed most of the recommendations of the Auditor General contained in that report. These recommendations have formed the basis of the immediate need for the office to move forward under the new restructure and reestablishment plan.

Corrective Actions to restore prudent Management of the Office

Remarkably for the first in 1998, the Public Curator embarked on positive steps to restore the discrepancies and the chaotic situation within its office. From the little resources it had a Consultant company was engaged to assist in the improvement of the Office, with little result at a considerable cost.

In 2000, another consultant company Anvil (PNG) Project Service Limited (APS) was engaged in consultation with the Corporate Executive Team of the Department of Attorney General. The consultant company successfully carried out restoration of the Office in terms of data collation, estate restoration and data population, creation of all registers and the fund management system.

This exercise enabled the office to remedy some of the management and administration problems experienced by the office over the last thirty (35) five years. When the new acting Public Curator and Official Trustee got appointed he also emphasise the need for realigning the office of public Curator. Some areas of achievement were:

  • Increase in number of support staff in 2010/2011 calendar year
  • Development of a Annual Plan for the Office
  • Review and Creation of an estate register and Database
  • Review and update of all estate files and-records
  • Installation of to some extend a accounting systems and procedure
  • Production of Traning Plan for the office of Public Curator
  • Computerization of Accounting system.

Reconstruction of Office Management and Accounting system

By 2010 the following projects had been completed by the acting Public Curator.

  • Implementation of office system and equipment upgrade
  • Computerization of Accounts and Financial Records
  • Improved Finacial Reporting on Monthly basis.
  • Referral of Officers and Persons liable to Estate Funds
  • Corrective Actions of Management Process
  • Improvements made in the area of File Management system.
  • Financial Statement of 2009/2010 submitted to appropriate Authorities.
  • Production of Training Plan 2010 – 2015
  • Establishment of Public Curator Advisory Board in March 2011

TRUST ACCOUNTS HELD UNDER OFFICE OF PUBLLIC CURATOR.

The Office of Public Curator administers a number of cash fund accounts as described under the Wills, Probate and Administration Act, Public Curator's Act and Insolvency Act that is manage in accordance with the Public Finance (Management) Act.

These accounts are:-

(i)         Trust Accounts for Deceased persons

(ii)        Insolvency Accounts for Insolvent persons

(iii)       Term Deposit Accounts for minors and beneficiaries of estates

(iv)       Savings Accounts for beneficiaries

(v)        Public Curator's Corporate Account for operational purposes.

Public Curator & Official Trustee

Jacob Popuna

jacob popuna     

Jacob Popuna was appointed the Public Curator and Official Trustee of PNG in 2013 with a contract of five-year term in office.

Mr Popuna joined the Department of Justice & Attorney General in 2007 as Principal Legal Officer within the Office of the Public Curator & Official Trustee.

Prior to that, Mr Popuna worked with the Western Highlands Provincial Government and also with previous members of Parliament from Mt Hagen.

He is a Member of the PNG Law Society, Member of the Gideon’s International Bible Society and Member of the Coffee Growers Association.

Mr Popuna has a law degree from University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and hails from Western Highlands province.