By Gary Hatigeva
THE Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) has clarified that the fleet of brand new cars given to the committee of the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival (MACFest), are a matter under the MID and not the Culture Ministry to answer.
The clarification came following publicities in local online forum on Facebook, Yumi Tok Tok, and local mainstream media, where a series of questions were raised regarding the fleet, some of which alleged that the committee gotten them with funds allocated for the running of the festival.
But prior to MID’s clarification, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Andrew Nihopara also clarified the circumstances and status of the fleet.
Nihopara clarified that those vehicles (Brand new) were never bought with the MACFEST Budget under his Ministry, but were purchasing activities done under the MID program and budget, which were already allocated to respective Ministries for use.
He further clarified that the committee had only requested that they use those vehicles for MACFEST first before they are released to the respective ministries by MID, a move the local Forum described as a clever approach from the MACFest Chair.
Meanwhile, the Yumi Tok Tok forum on Monday published a clarification from someone within the MID who agreed with explanations from the MACFest Chair over the status of the vehicles currently parked at the National Museum.
Following the Yumi Tok Tok revelation, Island Sun also got from MID officials who confirmed that the headlined vehicles were purchased under the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) in their 2017 budget from Ela Motors.
Discussions within the forum also received questions, as to why the new fleet of vehicles when the country is face with a cash flow situation and a negative economic status, but ministry officials explained that based on these concerns, the Yumi Tok Tok forum source was right to state that some government ministries are in need of vehicles for official use.
They however added that this is to also cut down on the issue of hiring of vehicles, which have become costly and unnecessary in many aspects.
This clarification also goes in line with earlier explanations from the Yumi Tok Tok forum, whose source stated that there are certain ministries currently in need of new vehicles, and that some of them are currently hiring vehicles.
Officials further added that the reports in the both the mainstream and online media, were right about the fact that vehicles have been allocated to Ministries that are in need of vehicles to carry out their work, but reassured that not for all ministries.
It was also reported that the six new vehicles highlighted, are valued at more than $200,000 each, estimated at a total of around $1.2 million were bought from Ela Motors, as one of the country’s leading car dealers.
The forum further added in its report their source also revealed that MID took quotes from three leading car dealers, and Ela Motors was the cheapest with a reputable backup service as one of the conditions.
The vehicles according to MID officials confirmations, were given as part of the ministry’s contribution towards the hosting of the Melanesian event, something the MACFest Chair said, will mostly be used to transport officials from participating nations during the festival.
The Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival will run from July 1 and coincides with Solomon Islands 40th Anniversary Day, and the vehicles will be delivered to the Ministries who have already been identified after the festival.