SI orders probe into PNG chancery

National, Normal

The National, Friday 02nd December 2011

SOLOMON Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has instructed his Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Shanel to deal with the controversial issue surrounding the Papua New Guinea chancery funds.
Special secretary to the prime minister, Andrew Muaki, said Lilo had written to Shanel, instructing him to address the issue of urgent concern in his ministry.
“The prime minister instructed him to liaise with his PNG counterpart to ascertain the degree or level of misappropriation of funds earmarked for the implementation of the PNG chancery in Honiara,” Muaki said.
He said Lilo stressed in the letter dated Nov 29 that although the construction of the PNG chancery in Honiara was a matter between the PNG government and the contractor, it was a matter of priority for him “so that taxpayers of both countries get maximum output for their dollars”.
“In contacting your PNG counterpart, please ensure you make it clear … that the SIG stands ready to assist PNG authorities should the latter consider it necessary to probe the matter further.”
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had already pledged to probe into the alleged mismanagement of the funds which froze up construction work on the chancery that was scheduled to finish in November last year.
During his brief stopover in the country in September, O’Neill said they were disappointed and pledged to launch a separate investigation which he planned to ask the Solomon Islands government to help in.
 “This will include how we have managed the contract process which has been done outside our normal procurement process.
“We will get to the bottom of it, but we want to assure the Solomon Islands government and the people that we will complete the project under a new contractor.”
The construction of the building came to a halt last year not long after Transworld Construction ran out of money to pay its employees and meet other contractual obligations.
Former prime minister Danny Philip before resigning decided to pump in a “goodwill” S$3 million payment for the construction.
The payment was said to be in response to a request by the PNG government, through the Solomon Islands Port Moresby High Commission Office, for the Solomon Islands to consider assisting in ensuring that work on the chancery building in Honiara would continue.
PNG helped build Solomon Islands chancery in Port Moresby without much assistance from the Solomon Islands government. – Solomons Star