Transparency Solomon Islands appreciates the explanation that the Economic Stimulus Package Committee gave for the discrepancies in the ESP allocation to Constituencies. Whilst that is the case such information given out upon the publication of the data/list should have been given out upfront. One would have thought that such developments such as infrastructure should be channeled through the responsible authorities to address and not through Members of Parliament who would then turn around and claim ownership of equipment etc., bought under such funds. It is yet another scheme of amassing wealth by those in positions of power. The question that must be asked now is “was this information made known to all Members of Parliament or just those in DCGA”. Transparency Solomon Islands notes that the amount put against North East Guadalcanal in the summary is $1,200,000.00 but the payment was made to different accounts. These are the discrepancies that must be cleared by the committee. The bottom line in Transparency Solomon Islands view is that these amounts must be audited by the Auditor General at the end of the day and that report made public and not to go the same way as the CDF report where public were stopped from viewing it. The report should be both the quantitative and qualitative. It is only then that the public can be sure these funds have been spend on stimulating economic activities. It is suggested that an Act of Parliament be passed to require the auditing of all Covid-19 SOE funding responses.
Having given the explanation on the allocation going to the constituencies, Transparency Solomon Islands asked if they could explain these allocations of ESP to these individuals and for what? Can they assure us that there is no conflict of interest in this allocation?
This list without the detailed information being made available by the Permanent Secretary of Finance is corruption in the public sector at its best together with the Constituency ESP allocation.
Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) calls for the ESP committee to provide all relevant detailed information to taxpayers of Solomon Islands on these payments.
In the absence of publicly published and explained list so far the data seem to indicate a deliberate move by those in positions of power to divert taxpayers and aid donors in the name of Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) to a few privileged and well connected individuals. While this is happening, the government fails to pay the nurses allowances and now the police officers are also finding out that their $500/fortnight not being paid. It is this uncontrolled reckless attitude from some public officers and well-connected cronies that should be unacceptable to the taxpayers of this country. This conduct is shameful and belittling to the image and status of some public servants and the Economic Stimulus Oversight and Implementing Committee (ESOIC). Is it in the public interest that the ESP is being used as an opportunity for self-enrichment by some individuals whilst those who toil the soil keeping our economy going watch?
Transparency Solomon Islands made an effort to verify the list of names of individuals receiving fund from the ESP with no clear purpose of the money and why they received but only to be met with explanations that are well outside of the intention of the stimulus package. Some weak explanation Transparency Solomon Islands is informed that the public servants whose names appeared deserve payment for their work done during this period of the pandemic. This is very irresponsible on the part of those public officers working in the Ministry of Commerce, whose names appeared to receive thousands of dollars. Shouldn’t that be handled differently from the ESP allocation. If so, then why not pay the nurses out of the ESP. This is clearly an explanation coming from someone caught in the act for the processes for those kinds of payments clearly do not fit in the ESP package.
Transparency Solomon Islands finds the explanation given by the Director of Economic Reform Unit within the Ministry of Finance and Treasury is questionable and unbelievable. His name appears four times as recipient of thousands of dollars. Isn’t this a conflict of interest? The Director explained that he had received the ESP on behalf of the students doing casual job for the Consumer and Price Control Division, where he paid the students as casual employees for their inspection jobs on the shops in town. Is ESP for that purpose? TSI does not believe so.
TSI see all these inconsistencies in the handling of national issues related to expenditures of the government as a run for public funds by the Executive Government MPs and Senior public officers to enrich themselves at everyone’s cost. The small number of government employees in the Foreign Investment Division have their names appeared to receive thousands of dollars from the ESP as a reward for their hard work
The requirement of the ESP was for applicants is to submit their proposal with a registered business name, but this is not the case here for these individual recipients. A number of these individual recipients are public servants or someone with close relation to a member within the ESOIC. This is where public scrutiny is required now or an enquiry into what is going on. Transparency Solomon Islands called on the integrity institutions of the government to take the list of names as hard evidences of corruption and prosecute those people responsible for self-serving themselves and their cronies in the distribution of ESP.
ISSUED BY TSI TONIGHT