13 Jul 2015

Solomons govt accused of cronyism

2:01 pm on 13 July 2015

Transparency Solomon Islands is accusing the government of cronyism in its recent bid to pay more than 450 thousand US dollars in damages to a local boat operator.

no caption

Photo: RNZI Koroi Hawkins

The Sun Express was allegedly damaged when it was carrying MPs who were supporters of Manessah Sogavare on the eve of last year's prime ministerial elections.

The boat was allegedly shot at and set on fire.

Mr Sogavare was subsequently elected prime minister.

TSI's chief executive Edward Ronia says his organisation is objecting to the proposed payment, firstly because it was a private members trip and secondly because the amount is excessive and unbudgeted for.

"The actual call is for us not to pay for this, for the government not to meet it. Or if they do we are calling for a proper assessment, otherwise to ask government to meet a huge sum of money that we know nothing about, that the government has initiated it is not the right approach."

The leader of the independent group in parliament Manasseh Maelanga has also weighed in on the debate threatening legal action if the government goes ahead with the payment.

However the Solomon Star newspaper reports a statement from the Prime Ministers office says cabinet will stand by its decision to support the MV Sun Express.

A police investigation into the alleged shooting of the boat is still ongoing.