22 Mar 2006

New disagreements between Solomons party and Taiwan

4:07 pm on 22 March 2006

Taiwan and the leader of the Solomon Islands Labour Party are again at loggerheads over aid.

Joses Tuhanuku has repeated claims Taiwan is secretly supporting some candidates in the election, including one in his own Rennell and Bellona constituency.

Mr Tuhanuku says he now accepts that most Taiwan aid is routed through the central bank but he says there's also a secret fund which the acting prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, can use at his discretion.

"They collaborate, because the Prime Minister has convinced them that he [the rival candidate] is the person who can sort of knock me out, in their view, in the election so they have to fund it."

Taiwan's Ambassador, Antonio Chen, says Mr Tuhanuku is wrong.

He says in the past four years Taiwan has supported one thousand aid projects and all the money has been processed through the proper channels and the arrangements are one hundred percent transparent.

We have a donors' meeting in the diplomatic corps and even the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand High Commission also has contact with us every month. We have a co-ordination meeting including Australia and we even publish publicly all the projects and micro projects we support.

Mr Chen asks why Mr Tuhanuku has raised the issue now just ahead of the election, but had made no mention of it before.