THE Leader of Opposition, Matthew Wale, has called on the Permanent Secretary of Finance to state when he will publish the list of Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) beneficiaries.
In a media statement last week, responding to PS Finance’s statements during a talkback show on Sunday (Nov 15), Wale said Dentana’s statements were evasive.
He stressed that what would be most useful is that PS Finance simply tell the country the date these lists will be published.
On the ESP 600k payment to Northeast Guadalcanal Constituency, Wale said the PS Finance’s statements were confusing.
“First there was denial that such a payment was made. This was followed by an admission that the payment was made, but was withheld. Now the former MP has confirmed that the payment actually went into the constituency account,” says the Opposition Leader.
Wale said, “These are constituency funds meant for constituents, and the timing of this payment made close to a bye election makes it appear sinister. Nobody with a vested interest in the election outcome should be making allocation decisions to constituents during a by-election.
“The fact that no similar payments were made to the other two constituencies with vacant parliamentary seats points to the fact that it appears the government was flirting with allowing the former MP to distribute these funds.”
“Or is it just sheer incompetence?” asked Wale.
The Opposition Leader however expressed gratitude to the PS Finance for finally announcing that ESP $600,000 due to the three constituencies with vacant parliamentary seats will be paid after the by-elections, adding that this is common sense and a good decision.
Wale further called on the PS Finance to be more efficient in deciding the rest of the ESP beneficiaries.
Whilst understanding the complexity of the tasks involved and the need to safeguard public funds, Wale points out that it has taken too long to decide these ESP allocations.