More Than $100 Million Spent Looks Fishy: TSI
TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) combines its voice with those of other citizens demanding transparency and accountability with regard to the deals and arrangements [if any] relating to the development of Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mavo land and the current development on it. The asking of $21 million payment indicates there is an agreement and deal in existence committing this country to this project by the present DCGA led Executive Government.
It should be and is of great concern to public servants, the tax-paying citizens, and residents of Solomon Islands that the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mavo housing scheme as revealed by the statement from the Director of Metropolis Pacific Pte Ltd will be paid for by public servants from their own savings, provident funds or housing credit from banks and financial institutions, and not at taxpayers’ expense. Did he discuss this with them, or the Ministry responsible? It would have been better to sub-divide the land and let the public servants build their houses, the type of houses they want. After all the Act was breached many years ago and land should have gone back to the Commissioner of Lands.
The people of Solomon Islands are witnessing the actions of an Executive Government that is currently in power [OUR Party] who does not understand the difference between State and Government. Transparency Solomon Islands reminds the government in power and the citizens of this country that how this country was put together, Solomon Islands as a political association establishing and exercising sovereign jurisdiction within its defined territorial borders and, where politics the activity through which we the people of Solomon Islands make, preserve, and amend the general rules under which they live collectively demands us to hold the government in check for the common good and interest of all. The state encompasses all public bodies and exercises impersonal authority, representing the permanent interest of society, rather than the partisan sympathies of any group of temporary politicians [government in power] as we are seeing more and more need to remind this Executive Government that it is only a part of the State. As such it needs to be mindful of not exercising the unlimited and absolute authority of the State without any transparency or consultation with the citizens. A number of decisions taken by the current OUR Party majority coalition government, is encroaching into the unlimited and absolute power and authority of the State in the interest of a group of temporary politicians because they happen to be in power. Government can be changed, remodeled and reformed, the state is permanent and continuing entity. Similarly as long as the people of Solomon Islands do not hold it in check or do something about the manner in which the Executive Government squanders the countries public fund on projects such as this, the Health Insurance Scheme of the members of parliament and their families, the development of this country in the interest of all taxpayers is going down the wrong lane.
Solomon Islands is reaping the rewards of a party that did not campaign the 2019 election and having not campaigned the National General Election, they cannot be held to account. More and more the country is witnessing major schemes that no one voted for. Can they be held to account? Probably not because they did not campaign the 2019 National General Election and no one knows where they are taking this country to. All the more reason not to extend the parliament to 5 years but to go to the polls 2023, to allow people exercise their right to vote in a party, that they believe has their interest at heart and one they can hold to what it promises during the campaign period.
Back to the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mavo issue, the statement from the Director of the company is hilarious, as it implies that civil servants will willingly sacrifice their life-time saving on something that obviously will not guarantee that they will not lose out at the end. They may also have saved for years but none has the funds equivalent to the going price of the houses. And to say it is not from taxpayers money, most certainly he believes the people of Solomon Islands can be taken for a ride as he has done it seems with the Executive Government. When he requests the payment of $21.9 million from the government, he should know how the government raises its funds -tax. Is that not a demand to fork out funds from taxpayers?
Perhaps what he should be informing the public is how much loan did he take out to build the place, from which bank and what country did he loan the money from, at what interest, and total amount of loan. What assurances did he give to the financial institute for the loan he got to build the houses? Does it include some written agreement from the DCGA led Executive Government? What agreement or security did this OUR Party led Executive Government have with him to go ahead with this project? These are the information he should share with the public and public are interested in. What did he commit this country to financially when he took on this project and the written agreement [any] he had with the current Executive Government giving him confidence to ask for that amount of tax-payers money? Was the Ministry of Public Service consulted let alone the public servants themselves? Was due diligence carried out with regard to how financially viable is the company and the list goes on. How safe and long lasting will these houses be.
The statement by the General Manager of Metropolis Pacific Pte Ltd, William Ling that they have already spent more than $100 million on the project implies that government would have to pay in return for the millions claimed already invested in the housing scheme. If this company is building this housing scheme from a loan who exactly or under whose name was the loan taken? These are important questions that Ling should attend to or important to the people of Solomon Islands when he is asking the government to pay him for work already carried out. Ling revealed to the Island Sun news that capital investment into the MAMARA project has exceeded SBD$100 million, which has gone towards the:
- construction of the project headquarters;
- the first 50 units of housing;
- the purchase of construction materials and machineries;
- 2400 square meters of factories and warehouses, and
- the foundation materials for 70 rooms in what will be Mamara Spring Hotel’s main building.
The Executive Government needs to be completely transparent with the public and all taxpayers of Solomon Islands. Failing that this is a very suspicious deal similar to scam projects intended to defraud the government and public servants of their life-time savings. The Prime Minister was very boastful about the project when it was launched this year describing the project as a historic milestone to be proud of, in the face of the delipidated state of health infrastructures throughout this country that people are crying out for their government to attend to. If the government is to pay for this the truth revealed is that taxpayers and civils servants and others (NPF Savings) would have to cope up the payment to the company for the houses built at Mamara, the first payment being costed at more than $21 million. The National Provident Fund (NPF) in the past sold out newly built houses not even above half a million. But those at Mamara the cheapest is costed at $4.9 million. Who in Solomon Islands has this kind of money?
TSI supports concerned citizens demand and reiterated its call for the executive government to make public all the agreement and formalities pertaining to the housing scheme be made public for all to see and for the sake of transparency that the Prime Minister is so on about in the Parliament.
Walk the talk Prime Minister in the name of transparency and accountability the two most important pillars of democracy and inform the nation about this deal that your Executive Government has committed this country to and prioritized above the health crisis of the people of Solomon Islands. If this country has that much money to blow about why are our health infrastructures left wanting throughout the country, why do they run out of the basic drugs every now and again, why have you not responded to the cry of the people of Choiseul Province to have their Taro hospital and Wagina clinic fixed, rebuild etc.
ISSUED BY TSI TONIGHT