By Alfred Sasako
DELAYS in appointing new Board Members to the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) have reportedly brought the State-Owned Enterprise’s multi-million dollar reform programme to a standstill.
SIPA had five Board Members, but the number has dwindled to just three following the recent death of one and the conviction of another. The non-renewal of Chairman and former Attorney General, Billy Titiulu’s contract has reportedly worsened the situation.
Mr Titiulu’s contract was said to have lapsed last February and has not been renewed.
At just two Board Members presently, SIPA is without a quorum to meet or approve any major capital spending.
As a result, SIPA’s multi-million dollar reform program has reportedly come to a standstill. By law, all SIPA spendings must first be approved by the Board before any transactions are made, sources told Island Sun over the weekend.
It is understood SIPA’s concerns were recently raised with the Minister of Finance and Treasury and Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, who undertook to look into the matter. To date, there has been no action on the issue of appointment of new Board Members.
SIPA requires two new Board Members to replace the late Michael Ahikau, who passed away recently and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Henry Murray, who in March this year was convicted of official corruptions.
Sources told Island Sun that unless responsible authorities act on the SIPA Board issue, its work program including a comprehensive reform program would continue to suffer.
Responsibility for SIPA is shared between the Minister of Finance and Treasury and the Minister for Infrastructure Development.
SIPA’s reforms include upgrading of the overseas wharf at Noro in Western Province and other works to improve cargo-handling efficiency at the overseas wharves as well as safety at the domestic jetties at Point Cruz.