- PM Hou dismisses 2.7m for APEC
- PAC Chairman disapproves clarification
BY JENNIFER KUSAPA and GEORGINA KEKEA
PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has refuted the report made by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Douglas Ete on the 2.7 million dollars for the APEC trip.
PM Hou in his recent media conference said that the statement was erroneous and misleading information given out by the Honourable for East Honiara.
PM Hou said the 2.7 million was misleading, his delegation Madam and himself the trip was funded by the Australian Government and his expenses in Papua New Guinea was met by the PNG government.
The actual cost of the trip was $471,489.50 that is the cost of the trip and that amount is for his delegation members.
He said that he did not know where the PAC chairman got his $2.7 million figures.
Prime Minister Hou said the media should have got clarification from his office before publishing the article.
He said that he will explain and clarify on the floor of parliament of all his trips overseas during his time as Prime Minister.
“I will be producing further statement to the floor of the parliament, this is in regards to all trips that I have undertaken since I became PM in November last year, this is very important for the Parliament so that they know what the PM is doing and what are the benefits that comes out of those trips,” PM Hou said.
He said he attended the APEC summit upon the invitation from the host country, and it’s an opportunity where pacific leaders can meet leaders from the APEC to raise some issues of concern in the Pacific.
PM Hou also explained that his trips oversea are for finding opportunities for the interest of the country and not for personal interest.
However, in a response to the Prime Minister, PAC Chairman, Hon Ete has disproved the clarification on the APEC trip.
He said as Chair of PAC, he knows what he had seen in the paper before him.
He said 2.7 plus million was allocated under the heading of APEC trip.
“It was allocated as APEC trip. How could I miss it”, Ete said.
Ete said he has nothing against the trip and didn’t think anything much of the amount of monies being spent until the media picked the information and dissect it for public consumption.
Ete didn’t expect the media to pick the information and was quite taken aback when questioned about his words in parliament.
The information shared by the media has ruffled the Office of the Prime Minister (OPMC) resulting in a backlash to journalists even though PAC was also broadcasted via SIBC and telecasted via TTV.
Because of OPMC’s lash out at the media, Chairman of the PAC was sought to clarify the amount of money he highlighted on the floor of parliament.
“No. The media was not inaccurate. I said this in parliament and the media picked the information. And I know that my information is not inaccurate” Ete said.
He said he is concerned and will today write a letter to the Prime Minister seeking clarification on the monies being funded by donors and monies being spent by government and what the 2.7 million under the heading of APEC trip was spent on.
Ete said it is concerning when the head of government doesn’t know how much expenses the said trip has raked up.
“I have rechecked the papers and it is more than 2.7 million. If I am wrong, please quote me as wrong too. But I believe the amount is 2.7million plus”, Ete said.
Ete was responding to the media when questioned about the PR that office of the Prime Minister had issued earlier.
In the statement Office of the Prime Minister said, “Reporters owe it to the public to tell the truth. As much as possible reporters must check to verify their stories before reporting. In this case, no one cared to check with OPMC before publishing the inaccurate and misleading story” the statement from OPMC said.
PAC in which Ete heads, has a function to examine accounts prescribed by section 38 of the Public Finance and audit act together with the report of the Auditor General thereon.
Another function of the PAC is to to establish the causes of any excesses over authorised expenditure and to make recommendations to Parliament on any appropriate measures to cater for such excesses of expenditure.