Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to publish the list of the successful applicants for the Economic Stimulus package, instead of parading students again paid out of ESP in print media. The taxpayers are clear that you have misused and abused the ESP allocation from the intended purpose. In your explanation of the ESP this portion of funds will be for registered businesses and not for payment of imprests, and the portion going through the members of parliament would be for the informal sector mostly out there in the rural areas.
To date some of the issues raised in Transparency Solomon Islands office indicates the informal business sector players are also being hit by allegedly new rules being put up by the Members of Parliament and the rules applied to this portion of the funds. Already the government ministry responsible for this fund is misusing the fund under ESP for imprests to pay for students’ weekly allowances. How much more will be revealed when the actual list is published.
In this article Transparency Solomon Islands in the absence of continued non-release of the list of recipients for this portion of the ESP, releases the leaked list of companies that payments were made to against the Economic Stimulus Package allocation. Of the work that Transparency Solomon Islands carried out examining this list against the requirements put on applicants, it is recommended that the Permanent Secretary immediately release the list of successful companies for the ESP. It is TSI’s finding that there are companies in this list that are not applicants but are service providers. This leads to the question of what company applied, who owned it and were they registered as is required for this portion of the funds. There are a few companies that do not appear in the Company Haus registry, companies that were de-registered, companies that were registered during the period that the State of Emergency was declared. Ownership and nationality records are inconsistent in the Company Haus Registry calling for a complete overhaul of it especially if government funding is tied to their registry.
Our office is also informed by a few rural people that some successful applicants do not have any cocoa farm but were given and they drunk the money away. It is also the case that one huge recipient of the funds believes the fund is from subsidy scheme and not ESP. This requires the Ministry to release the list of ESP successful companies so that they know, and all taxpayers will too. Transparency Solomon Islands supports the ESP package but the secrecy of how the package is managed, administered, and controlled in the absence of any transparency and accountable mechanism in place raises a lot of question. It is also not fair to those operating in the unregulated market. These markets are developed from the own initiative of the people and communities operating in this sector. The unregulated sector are now going to be subject to the new rules by their member of parliament.
A community in this unregulated sector for example heavily depends on bech-der-mer as a means of generating an income. When there is a ban on this, being resilient, they turned to Eskies for the fish market in Honiara. Through this system they are able to inject into their community more than $50,000.00/fortnight spread amongst the whole community. The ship operator that service their community informs them that he will no longer be allowing eskies to be shipped on his ship. But there are other operators. The problem is they do not provide the weekly service run that they needed making it exceedingly difficult for them. They came up with another solution for their operation in the informal sector and looking for how to solve this challenge. This is to seek assistance under the ESP to buy a couple of freezers where they can keep their catch fresh till the next ship. They submit their proposal to ESP only to be told that they are not a registered business so do not qualify. This is the people that need this ESP package and if one is to do any study will find sustain the economy of the country in good times and bad times. If ESP can pay for vehicles for those unknown regulated business owners why not the freezers required by the unregulated economic sector players.
Here is then the list of companies that were paid the ESP. Transparency Solomon Islands acknowledges that a number of these businesses are legal businesses and worthy of the ESP, but there are several questionable ones as well. As revealed by some businesses they are only the suppliers and not the applicants or the recipients of the ESP package. The Permanent Secretary need to clear this and inform the public through the publication of the ESP recipient list proper and of explain what is going on. Taxpayers deserve to know this.