LEADER of Opposition Hon Matthew Wale has described the Prime Minister’s ‘drop in the ocean’ cost-benefit statement as outrageously insensitive.
Hon. Wale said that the response deviated from the genuine concerns raised, namely, the lie his office told that the China trip was fully funded by China, and consequently, taxpayers footing the cost of a huge travelling delegation.
According to the Opposition Leader, the Prime Minister’s deflective response was quite surprising considering the current economic crisis faced in the country.
“It might be just a drop in the ocean for the Prime Minister, but it is a great deal for struggling Solomon Islanders who wake up every day trying to fend for themselves and their families” Hon. Wale insisted.
“People are returning home sick because of the lack of supplies and medicines at our hospital and clinics. There are local businesses barely operating under the heavy tax burdens. So, forgive me for calling this response insensitive, but spending taxpayers money in our current state is a great deal for citizens of our country,” Hon. Wale said.
“The best he could have done was explain the role of each of the members of the travelling delegation, and why it was necessary for such a huge delegation to travel. After all, he is running a Nation that belongs to the people, and not a private business” Hon. Wale explained.
The Opposition Leader adds the Sogavare regime have landed the government in a very difficult cash flow situation that the government could not pay for services.
He said the Prime Minister is now blaming donor partners for his irresponsible negligence.
“Donors are not responsible for government services. It is happening because of his negligence for selling Solomon Islands for 30 pieces of silver,” he said.
Hon Wale said the Prime Minister has made Solomon Islands a laughing stock in the region.
Meanwhile, the Leader of Opposition also described the explanation given by the Secretary to Prime Minister, that the PRC couldn’t cover the Hon-Brisbane return trip because of difficulties accessing the Solomon Airlines website, as quite astounding.
“I find it hard to understand the fact that a country with the technological caliber as China could not access the Solomon Airlines website. This is difficult to fathom,” he said.
The Opposition Leader reiterated that the Prime Minister’s Office needs to clarify why a total imprest of $238, 134.88 was also paid to a non-travelling official as imprest-holder who did not travel with the delegation.
“Why was this concern not clarified? The imprest was signed by SPM and approved by finance knowing very well that his officer did not travel with the delegation and bypassed financial management procedures?” Hon Wale questioned.
He said this is a serious financial malpractice.