Prime Minister and delegation trip costs $2.5M

DPM Maelanga escorts PM Sogavare on arrival
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THE Prime Minister’s 19-member delegation on a three-legged overseas tour has cost taxpayers $2.5 million, documents Island Sun cited have revealed.

The delegation arrived last week following their recent overseas trip to New York (UNGA), Washington, Singapore and Australia.

The documents obtained by this paper also revealed that the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC) has pleaded with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) to meet the total costs for airfares and per diems for the delegates.

Honiara-based FFA is a regional organisation also funded by taxpayers.

“The contribution by the FFA has reduced the cost to SIG from an estimated $2.5 million to $934, 265.60 – a savings of $1.56 million,” a letter by SPM Dr Jimmie Rodgers to the Finance Ministry stated.

The 19-member delagation are as follows;

·         Manasseh Sogavare – Prime Minister

·         Emmy Sogavare – Prime Minister’s spouse

·         Lily Maefai              – MP for East Makira

·         Dr Jimmie Rodgers –   Secretary to Prime Minister

·         John Osmond Muria – Attorney General

·         Albert Kabui – Special Secretary to Prime Minister

·         Leni Dalavera – Press Secretary

·         Suzie Wale – EPS

·         Walter Diamana – Chief Protocol

·         Ipo Kabwere – CPP 1

·         Fred Toliliu – CPP 2

·         Hollingsworth Avui – Liasion Officer

·         Jerry Manele – Foreign Affairs Minister

·         Collin Beck – PS Foreign Affairs

·         Fiona Indu – Assistant Secretary, UN & Americas

·         Rex Ramofafia – Minister of Planning

·         Susan Sulu – PS Planning

·         Ishmael Avui – Minister Lands & Housing

·         Tagini Makario – Minister of Public Service

Documents have also shown that the total budget for hotel accommodations and other charges have also amounted to $1,040,926.96 (these charges exclude airfares and per diems).

A total of $410,041.84 was paid directly to the SI New York Mission and $630,885.12 was carried as special imprest by a PMO officer.

Sources said the total Budget exceeding $2 million is questionable given that airfares and accommodations by the Prime Minister and part of the delegation is usually met by the UNGA or the other host countries given that official tours to Singapore and Australia were also requests for the Prime Minister to visit.

“The taxpayers money spent on this trip is just too much and the makeup of the delegation and the roles they play these official outings are also a total waste of time and money,” one source said.

Documents further showed that in New York, the SPM has requested an additional cost of USD$20,000 (SBD$160,000) to top up additional costs for the delegation there.

Information sighted from the documents stated that costs were needed because the accommodation costs for the 19-member delegation was not enough and that the Prime Minister and other delegates were threatened to be kicked out of their rooms.