BY ALFRED PAGEPITU
THE Premier of Central province has clarified accusations of possible conflict of interest under his leadership in regards to payments being made to fuel depots owned by provincial workers.
The accusations against the premier stemmed from a 2019/20 audit report that highlighted substantial payments of around $400,000 of provincial funds being made to fuel depots owned by two senior employees of the province.
The accusations against the premier and his executive was posted on the ‘Ngella Forum’ facebook page, attracting a heated debate, with many labelling it as conflict of interest.
The 2019/20 report highlighted the following:
“Stonewall enterprise owned by the treasurer was paid $234.565 for fuel from the provincial funds.
“Rocky Enterprise owned by the senior treasurer was being paid $164.175 for fuel from the provincial funds.
But in response, Premier Stanley Manetiva confirmed that they have been taking fuel from the mentioned depots.
He said the Central Provincial Government gets fuel from fuel depots on a credit basis for 2-3 months and has happened on financial years in the past, not just 2019/2020.
He said fuel depots in Tulagi are all eligible to supply fuel to the Central Provincial Governments as long as they accept that credit be paid after 2- 3 months.
He said the figure shown in the report is in terms of gross, but what the depot earns daily is for the depot owners to calculate as profit earned on their daily sales.
“That is done over 2-3 months. Credits on fuel are not allowed by fuel depots in Tulagi township because they will fail to replace stock and rather do their sales on a cash basis.
“Related parties are not a hidden agenda here,” he added.
“It has been made known to the auditors who supplied the fuel and who owns the said depots,” he said.
“My government is being blamed for corrupting the Central provincial government.”
“For me as premier, I was elected in June 2019, and just to remind the people of Central province that this was also done in the past, with former Provincial Governments, so it has been ongoing.”
The report also made mention that despite high-payouts to the two companies, a payment for fuel to the MPA for Central East Ngella was only $2,500 for fuel from his depot.
Commentators are calling on the Premier to do the right thing and call all those responsible to be held accountable.