20 Sep 2013

Guadalcanal premier replacing executive after resignations

4:47 pm on 20 September 2013

The premier of Solomon Islands' Guadalcanal province says he has already replaced five of the eight members of his executive who resigned earlier this week.

Stephen Panga says the group petitioned him to step down over issues of land mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.

Mr Panga came into power in February after the previous premier Anthony Veke stepped down over similar allegations.

Mr Panga says the members allege that in allocating ward funding to the process involved in drafting the new state constitution he acted inappropriately. Annell Husband spoke to him.

STEPHEN PANGA: The work of the state constitution it was fully endorsed by the executive. And it's not a new process, it's not a new programme. This is a programme which, from day one, on the demands of the people of Guadalcanal [Indistinct], they want to have a state government. So for us to actually move forward on this we need to have on Guadalcanal a state constitution. So that's why when I came in as premier, my priority is to get this state constitution going ahead.

ANNELL HUSBAND: But was there not enough money allocated to that process without dipping into that fund that's meant to go to the ward members?

SP: Well, in fact, provisions for a state constitution were in the budget, but it's only allocated $200,000. And $200,000 is not enough for the committee to go ahead and do more consultations for the people of Guadalcanal. So therefore provision is supplementary in the provisional government. [Indistinct]

AH: OK. But do you not have to get approval for that from your executive?

SP: Already the executive approved. That's why we're proceeding from that.

AH: So if they had approved it and you're going ahead with the group decision, then why would they resign over it?

SP: That's what I never know. Maybe they have some hidden agenda. What, I don't know.

AH: You've sworn in your new members. You've got another three to get. Are you confident of getting them?

SP: Of course, yes. I have confidence that tomorrow the three will come. Now in my executive, we are now 8 members, so as long as these 3 come in then I have 11. But 8 members is enough for the executive functions of the government.