By ISAAC NICHOLAS
ACTING Treasurer and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill has told ex-servicemen that the amount to be paid out is not an issue; rather, the main issue is proper calculations of entitlements legally owed to each ex-serviceman.
He said this after a meeting with leaders of six groups of ex-servicemen last Friday, which the group claimed that their total entitlement was K187 million and demanded that the amount paid to them.
“After completion of proper calculations, the government will pay whatever amount that is legally owed to the ex-servicemen,” O’Neill said.
The planned payout of outstanding entitlements was supposed to start last Thursday at Murray Barracks as promised. But, this was stopped by leaders of ex-servicemen who claimed that certain issues remained unresolved and must be properly addressed by the government. They insisted on another meeting with O’Neill.
That meeting was held at Vulupindi House and attended by O’Neill, chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc, Finance secretary Gabriel Yer and Defence secretary Fred Punangi, Personnel Management acting secretary Ravu Verenagi, solicitor-general Neville Devete and Anthony Yauieb representing treasury, prime minister and NEC.
The meeting lasted for more than two hours and focused on issues raised by the ex-servicemen leaders which included method of payments, different groups of ex-servicemen, their petition to government and other pertinent issues.
O’Neill thanked the ex-servicemen for their services to the state and apologised on behalf of the government for not attending to their issues quickly.
He made it clear that the government was obliged to settle any outstanding claims that were legally owed to each and every ex-serviceman.
“I can assure you that the government will pay all entitlements legally owed to you,” O’Neill said.
He told the leaders that the government team was ready to start paying the ex-servicemen last Thursday, but it was stopped by their own leaders.
O’Neill said the payouts were legal entitlements of each and every ex-serviceman and cheque payments would be made to each individual name instead of going to a group leader or a lawyer’s trust account.