Friday, February 3, 2023
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SI & Korea discuss avenues to maximise current engagement

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Sogavare with the Ambassador of Korea and officials from both countries.

The visiting Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Ho-jeung KANG paid an introductory courtesy visit to Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare MP, this afternoon.

The Republic of Korea and Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations in 1978, a year after Solomon Islands gained Political independence. As a traditional donor partner, Korea has significantly contributed to Solomon Islands socio – economic development, especially in the sectors of human resource and fisheries.

This afternoon, His Excellency KANG and Prime Minister Sogvare discussed potential avenues to continue to venture into to maximize current engagement specifically in the Fisheries and marine resource sector development and management, Education and human resource development, Medical and health sector development and People to people exchanges.

 

The Government of Korea has responded positively to Solomon Islands call for logistical support towards the PG2023.

 

Through KOICA, the Republic of Korea assisted SINU in financing the USD5 million world class fisheries training complex which was presented to SINU on December 2017.

 

The Government of the Republic of Korea is also an active partner in the human resource sector with the provision of scholarships for eligible public servants and candidates to undertake Master degree and Doctoral Studies in Korea. This scholarship is ongoing.

Welcoming Ambassador H.E Ho-jeung KANG and his delegation to the country, Prime Minister Sogavare assure the Ambassador the government’s continuous support to further advance the existing friendship and partnership between Solomon Islands and the Republic of Korea.

Prime Minister Sogavare conveyed to Ambassador KANG, Solomon Islands sincere acknowledgement for the KOICA scholarship programme.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the Republic of Korea for its support (through K-WATER) in the Tina Hydro Project, the largest renewable energy project to be constructed in Solomon Islands.

Prime Minister Sogavare reiterated Solomon Islands call to see the reestablishment of KOICA Office in Honiara.

Ends///.

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Ministry finds NO case in “sex for seasonal work space” claim

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Beck: No case found and no one came forward.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade has confirmed that it has investigated allegations of sexual favour for places to work overseas under the seasonal labour programme and found no cases and no one had come forward to report any allegations

In December there was a report in the media claiming that certain officers in the Labour Mobility Unit were seeking sexual favour for spaces to work overseas under the labour mobility programme.

That has caused widespread debate and concerns from the public. The government in response had promised to investigate the matter.

Speaking exclusively to SBMOnline today, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Exeternal Trade, Collin Beck said: “Further to the Ministry’s press statement in December last year on allegation of sexual favors by Labour Mobility Unit of the Ministry. We looked into the matter and found no case as well as no one came forward to report any allegation incident.”

Meanwhile, he confirms that a reported case was investigated in 2021.

He said it was a case of a bogus individual from the public posing as an officer of the Ministry via phone, used an officer ‘s title to contact a female candidate for sexual and monetary favor.

Beck said the Ministry looked into the matter and confirmed someone was pretending to be a member of the Ministry and advised the victim to take the matter further with the Police.

“We consider matter criminal,” he said today.

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OPPOSITION SLAM PLANS BY GOVT TO RESTRICT NURSES TO WORK ABROAD

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LEADER of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale has slammed plans by the Government to restrict local nurses to seek job opportunities overseas.

The Opposition Office is aware that nurses are planning a mass departure to work at age care centres in Australia with offers also in Vanuatu.

Hon Wale said the Government through the Health Ministry and Foreign Affairs do not have the right to impede on nurses individual right to seek jobs abroad.

The Opposition Leader said the Government’s reaction is not surprising given the current draconian style of governance administered by the DCGA with a leadership style ruled with an iron-fist.

“That is exactly the type of Government DCGA is. Trying to impede on citizens right and to continue to treat public servants like slaves. What does the Government expect when they continue to treat public servants unfairly,” he said.

Hon Wale said the way forward in addressing this issue is by reinstating the Solomon Islands Nurses Association (SINA) and dialogue with them to see how best the Government can respond to their pleas.

“A mass departure or any mass resignation will be a major brain drain for our health care system. Therefore, the Government should deal with this issue carefully rather than trying to discourage opportunities that will provide greener pastures for the nurses and their families,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said DCGA lacks the wisdom and policy to address this issue.

ENDS//

Opposition Press

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Man burns down mother’s house after she has no money to give him

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A man in Ngella has burnt down his mother’s house in retaliation for her not giving him money whilst he was drunk.

Commissioner of Police Mostyn Mangau said the incident happened in Leitonga on Ngella on 15 January when the son, 20, returned home drunk and demanded money from his mum. He insisted that his mother gave him money or he would burn down her house.

Mangau said the mum politely told her son that she didn’t have any money.

“That disappointed the son – so he picked up a firewood which already lighting stuck it on to a coconut leaf and set fire to his mum’s house,” Mangau said.

He said fortunately his mum, 52, escaped with her grandson to avoid the fire.

The suspect though escaped from police had already been arrested on January 30 and now in custody.

Mangau said this is a very sad incident as in our cultures people always respect their father and mother.

He said there are ways to resolve issues like that in the communities and he wanted people to respect the process and not to take the law into their own hands.

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Armed robbers escape with more than $100k after robbing foreigner

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Police Chief Mangau

Three men armed with bush knife entered a hotel in east Honiara—threatened an Asian then escaped with more than $100,000 and an unknown amount of 300 yuan, the Chinese money, on 20 January at the Holiday Resort Motel in Henderson.

Commissioner of Police Mostyn Mangau said the three men between 21 to 23 years armed with bush knives entered the motel and one wounded a Chinese national and escaped with more than $100,000 with 300 yuan.

They were arrested on 26 January by police and were charged with armed robbery. Police recovered 300 yuan with a hand-bag but a huge amount of local currency was still missing.

Mangau said investigation into the matter is continuing and he appeals to those in the community who may have any knowledge on the matter to report it to police.

The commissioner also confirms that armed robbery is on the rise and knife is a common weapon used by the robbers to threaten innocent people when breaking into houses.

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The U.S is back

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The U.S flag after it was raised this morning

In a landmark event this morning, the United States of America has raised its national flag in Honiara – marking the opening of their new embassy in Honiara.

The low-key event occurred outside the BJS Building at the Point Cruz where the US Embassy is located.

officials
PS Beck in the middle and US diplomat Russell Comeau charge d’affairs , right, one of the officials from Washington in front of the new embassy in Honiara.

In a statement to the press, the US says it is pleased to broaden its engagement with the people of Solomon Islands and deepen its cooperation with the government by opening its embassy here.

The embassy will be headed by US diplomat Russell Comeau as charge d’affairs and interim to Solomon Islands mission.

The statement further states that the government of Solomon Island now has more direct access to the broader range of opportunities for engagement through their embassy here.

“Becoming an embassy is first step that will hasten the process of establishing permanent facilities and deploying additional diplomatic personnel,” it says.

The US says as one of the first countries to recognize Solomon Islands after its independence, it is pleased to join fellow partners at embassy level.

“The action stands as an enduring symbol of our commitment to the country and the region,” it says.

The US embassy in the Solomons will serve as a key platform from which the US Government will continue to develop the Indo-Pacific partnership with a critical partner, based on shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the state reads.

The US had an embassy here but was closed in 1993.

Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Collin Beck in congratulating the US on its opening of the embassy said the U. S never left the Solomons adding that the were reachable through the Port Moresby office. Port Moresby looked after Honiara and Port Vila.

One of the first tangible programmes that the two countries are working on now is the return of the Peace Corp programme which was very popular in the 1990s.

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Wale says reports of mass departure of nurses due to ‘govt negligence’

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Wale

OPPOSITION Leader Hon Wale is concerned with the recent reports of the mass departure of senior nurses to work overseas.

In a statement today, Hon Wale said that these recent shift or movement of workers is due to the National Government’s pure negligence to address concerns raised by the nurses that serve across the country.

He urged the National Government not to turn a blind eye on these issues.

He said the mass shift of nurses to greener pastures in another country is a direct result of government’s actions and policy approach to the plight of our nurses.

Hon. Wale adds one of the drastic actions by the government during the state of emergency was the suspension of the Solomon Islands Nurses Association (SINA) and that their claims were never heard nor addressed.

The Opposition Leader calls on the National Government to reinstate SINA and that it must be respected as the body that looks after the welfare of nurses.

“The Association is the key body that the government can work with to deal with these sort of issues specifically the mass shifting of nurses.”

“Once nurses leave in numbers it will have a massive negative impact on our health system and the Government must be held accountable for this,” he said.

He said it is absurd that the Government is prioritising other areas such as the proposal to the Parliamentary Entitlements Commission (PEC) to increase MPs entitlements and allocation of more funding for the upcoming pacific games.

“The DCGA’s heartless and self-service style of leadership comes with a price and clearly at the expense of public officers. These are the very people that need a pay rise and not members of Parliament. Their welfare is paramount because of the important role they play in our society,” he said.

Hon Wale said the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services need to address this issue with urgency.

“We cannot afford to lose our senior and experienced nurses. It would be a disaster,” he said.

He said the draconian style of governance by the current DCGA is not favourable for our country and our people.

ENDS//

 

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Former Fiji based Students’ long wait for release of container from Ports goes on as MEHRD explains delay

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File photo from Ports: The students' container has been sitting at Ports since mid last year.

Students who completed their studies in 2021 in Fiji and had their cargo sent in a container that arrived mid of 2022 and still sits at the Solomon Islands Ports Authority are frustrated and wanted the government to help them release it.

In a concerned note to SBMOnline today the former students from various institutions in Fiji said they were very frustrated as the container had been sitting at Ports since mid 2022 and some of their goods might have already been already in a bad state given the long period they are stored in the container.

The former students and their families loaded the container at the end of 2021 and shipped it from Fiji. However, they claimed since the government had failed to clear it from ports, the storage fee has really gone up.

They said the failure of MEHRD has resulted in the delay of the container and they call for urgent action to allow them remove their goods from the container.

When contacted today, the Permanent Secretary of Education, Dr. Franco Roddie said it was not the Ministry of Education’s own making that the said container was delayed or has not been released by the Ports Authority.

“MEHRD however responded to meet the costs for the hold of the container. But it was not an obligation. My officers facilitated the raising of payment but Ministry of Finance and Treasury did not respond. As I have stated, it’s not scholarship policy that SIG sponsored students would be assisted with costs for bringing home their personal effects from which country they were studying at; MEHRD merely supports students by completing the Tax Exemption form. Also graduating students’ baggage allowance is only 30 kg. Cost of containers and related costs are the responsibility of students and NOT SIG/MEHRD.”

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SIIP SKILLS SERIES ROLLS OUT SECOND WORKSHOP

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The presenters answering questions from participants.

Over 80 local building and supply contractors attended the Australian funded Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program’s (SIIP) second Workforce Skills Series workshop, held in partnership with Solomon Water, designed to lift the quality and competitiveness of the local private sector.

Australia’s SBD1.65-billion infrastructure partnership with Solomon Islands is delivering the free professional development series to promote local content opportunities through better skills, knowledge, and expertise for local companies to create more local jobs and deliver quality results.

Opening the event, SIIP Interim Team Leader Peter Leahy said the Skills Series will improve the skills and capacity of the broader infrastructure sector.

The initial workshop, held late last year, focused on the preparation of tender submissions by local firms. The second session, held Tuesday this week, at the Heritage Park Hotel, was on contract administration with industry presentations from Adam Searancke, Solomon Water and Ricky Fuo’o, General Manager, Tropical Group Builders.

“Today’s workshop provides interested local contractors an opportunity to understand the different types of contracts, how contracts are made and managed, mistakes to avoid, and ways in which SIIP will encourage local content. These practical workshops also give local firms the chance to hear from SIIP, and SIIP to hear the experiences of local industry leaders,” said Mr Leahy.

“Whilst there can only be one winner of any tender process, industry strengthening and capacity development, including these skills series workshops, are crucial in bringing opportunities within the reach of local companies, local suppliers, and within local communities where infrastructure is being delivered, maintained, and operated. SIIP’s Skills Series workshops are directly related to our local content strategy which aims to maximise training and capacity building opportunities for local business through SIIP-supported projects,” Mr Leahy continued.

Solomon Water Project Manager Adam Searancke highlighted the importance of effective contract management, especially for complex work, as the means of providing certainty for all parties.

“It is important that before we try to administer a contract, we need to understand what it is. A contract provides certainty between both parties and understanding what actually is included in the contract and knowing respective roles and requirements is critical to managing it successfully.”

“Solomon Water is keen to encourage opportunities for local contractors, our Forward Works Program is available through the Solomon Water website. We strongly encourage local firms to bid for work especially in the provinces,” added Mr Searanke.

Delivering his remarks at the event, General Manager, Tropical Group Builders and Chair of SICCI, Ricky Fuo’o thanked SIIP for emphasizing local content.

“SIIP is the first development aid program to promote a local content approach. We look forward to what the program is offering us and that’s why it is important to share and make known challenges of local contractors. We are not able to build our capacity if we are not given the opportunity, and we look forward to working with SIIP”, said Mr Fu’oo.

SIIP will be holding regular workshops this year responding to industry requests. The next workshop is expected to be how to develop a GEDSI policy in March.

Ends/////

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Police confirms report of indecent assault in crowd pushing for passport but no arrests made

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Police are investigating the case

Police have confirmed that they have attended to a report of indecent assault in the Ministry of Commerce, Immigration & Labour area last week but the matter was sorted out without any arrests Friday last week.

It was alleged that a male inappropriately touched a female in a crowd as people were pushing to know the status of their passport applications.

Most of those seeking new passports are amongst those applying to work under the seasonal workers programmes in Australia and New Zealand.

“Yes, police attended to the report but no arrests were made,” the RSIPF Media Unit confirmed to SBMOnline today.

Police also confirmed that the Immigration Office was also able to resolve the issue. They further established that no arrests were made as the person who was alleged to have touched the female was not identified and she had already left when police arrived.

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