Shipping grants abused

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CERTAIN members of Parliament (MPs) have been pocketing their share of shipping grants paid out by the Government while others are using these funds to purchase logging machines.

This was revealed by caretaker Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Parliament on Monday before he was ousted by a vote of no confidence.

Sogavare told Parliament the abuse of shipping grants also contributed to the cash flow problem the country is currently faced with.

He said the total amount of money given to MPs to purchase ships can easily reach SBD$ 1 billion.

“There are reports of MPs taking cuts from shipping grants and machineries.

“We had one businessman from the Western Province who come and see me and told me very clear he applied for a project to complete a ship seeking $2 million in funding.

“The advice he received from a MP was to increase the amount to $3 million so that the MP can get the additional $1 million as commission.

“This was an attempt to corrupt a businessman who applied for his project,” Sogavare exposed.

Sogavare said some MPs even used their shipping grant paid to them to purchase a housing estate in White River, east of Honiara.

“MPs are buying houses instead of paying ships.

“And now they cannot rent the place because of the high criminal activities in the area, nobody wants to rent the place, so they don’t make money.

“I think the idea was to rent the houses, make money than buy the ship. But they got caught out,” he said.

“The amount already given to MPs can so easily go up to SBD$700 million or even $1 billion,” he added.

He said the Government policy is clear, which is to pay ships and machines to do road work and road repair, not to buy logging machines, as was the case for some MPs.

“We are just compounding this problem for ourselves.

“No wonder why there’s a cash flow problem, the Ministry of Finance cannot pay up the queue of payments because payments are going to this area.

“By paying logging machines MPs are setting a bad precedence, what if all the other MPs also what logging machines,” he said.

BY PHILIP LILOMO

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