Tuesday, January 11, 2011

News update from SIBC, Honiara...

The following are some latest new items from Honiara, Solomon Islands by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC), 11 Jan 2011.  

The Opposition has called on the Danny Philip-led National Coalition for Reform and Advancement Government to explain a three-million dollars payment from the Solomon Islands Government to the Papua New Guinea High Commission in Honiara.

Opposition leader, Steve Abana said the Opposition had obtained substantial documents showing that the three million dollars deposit was made on the 6th of December 2010 into a PNG High Commission Bank account with Bank South Pacific.

Mr Abana says the NCRA Government is obliged to explain to the taxpayers of Solomon Islands the purpose of the money and why such huge amount of money from the state coffers was transferred without any formal handing over ceremony.

He says the Opposition questions the payment as it is aware that the local construction company contracted to build the PNG Chancery at Town Ground in Honiara had written to the former Finance and Treasury Minister in the previous C-NURA Government, Francis Billy Hilly requesting the government to provide a sovereign guarantee in order to secure a bank loan to complete the chancery building.

Mr Abana says work on the Chancery building came to a halt last year not long after it took off the ground after Transworld Construction ran out of money to pay its employees and meet other contractual obligations.

The Opposition leader says the C-NURA Government declined the company's request on the basis that the state was not in a position to incur additional debts and to maintain a level playing field for all businesses.

Mr Abana says the Opposition would welcome the payment if it was a genuine normal contribution from the Solomon Islands Government to the PNG Government towards the establishment of its chancery and not a sovereign guarantee to bail Transworld Construction from a self-created business mess.

The Prime Minister's official residence at Vavaya Ridge is yet to be renovated despite a six months timeframe had been set for it to be re- constructed before the Prime Minister moves in.

SIBC news today paid a visit to the official residence of the Prime Minister and was able to confirm that there is no sign of renovation taking place there.

Last year following the win of Danny Philip led government, the Prime Minister had not moved into his official residence, instead Prime Minister's office had arranged for the PM to reside in a house owned by former member of Parliament for East Honiara, Silas Milikada.

The Prime Minister Office's move to house the Prime Minister in a 28-thousand a month rental home had sparked widespread criticism from the general public.

Many have questioned why the the Prime Minister opted to stay at an expensive house instead of his official residence.

The Prime Minister's Office responded and said that the Prime Minister wanted an extension made to his official residence and the extension will serve as a private room to accommodate visiting dignitaries.

According to the Office, the tenancy agreement between PMO and the landlord spells out that if the extension had been completed before six months from September, the landlord will surrender part of government's money.

PMO said it had paid a six months rental to the landlord in full and the landlord will repay government if the PM left the rented home earlier before six months lapse of the tenancy agreement.

However, SIBC is able to confirm today that the extension that was supposed to be made to the PM's official residence is yet to be done.

The Opposition welcomes the announcement by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Edmond Sikua that police have instigated investigation into the illegal exportation of beche-de-mer by Asian Tongzi Zhang.

Opposition Leader, Steve Abana says from what transpired in the media about the issue over the recent days as well as information obtained by his office implied the involvement of both politicians and officials with the Asian illegal beche-de-mer exporter and those involved must face the full force of the law.

He said the approach taken by the Finance and Treasury Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo to dodge the facts about his unlawful addressing of the illegal beche-de-mer is deplorable.

Mr Abana says the announcement that police have instigated an investigation into the matter is welcomed by Solomon Islanders including the Opposition who cannot tolerate the NCRA Government’s involvement in wrong decisions.

He says it was laughable to read Mr Lilo accusing the previous CNURA Government of not referring the Asian to the DPP when he first offended.

Mr Abana says the truth was that the CNURA Government which Mr Lilo was also a member of had fined the Asian and further was working on a deportation order against him.

However, Mr Abana says that order was revoked after the NCRA Government took office upon a directive by the Minister for Finance and Treasury, Mr Lilo.

The Opposition says the Ministers wild accusations only demonstrate his desperation to divert public attention from his unlawful actions and that is deplorable.

Mr Abana says the deportation order is a clear demonstration of the CNURA Government’s non tolerance of foreigners who undermine the laws of the country by manipulating the government system with bribes for their own business interests.

The Republic of China, Taiwan will tomorrow hand-over solar sets to all constituencies of the country for lighting up of rural community schools. 

Director of Energy in the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, John Korinihona, says the government of the Taiwan has donated the solar sets.

He says members of Parliament have been invited to the handing-over ceremony to be held at nine o'clock tomorrow morning at the National Parliament Leaf Hut in Honiara.

Mr Korinihona says following the ceremony, the solar sets will be formally handed over to each MP at the Ports area at Point Cruz.

He says the solar sets to be distributed include 12 sets of 40 Watts solar system unit per constituency and five sets of 250 Watts solar system unit per constituency.

Twenty-two sets of one Watt mini solar light bar per constituency is also included in the solar package.

Mr Korinihona says this is a new initiative by the government of Taiwan under the scheme called "One Student, One Solar Lamp Project".

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