Renbel battles with ‘huge’ arrears

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By Mike Puia

In Tigoa,

THE current Renbel provincial government was welcomed with huge arrears when it assumed office in August last year.

The first arrears the government battled with totaled $40,000, incurred to the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF).

SINPF had reportedly opened a case against the Renbel provincial government. The case was eventually settled outside of court.

Renbel premier, Willie Tuhagenga, told Island Sun they had settled the arrear with SINPF resulting in the case being dropped.

Mr Tuhagenga also revealed when they assumed office there was another huge arrears the province was required to settle with the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.

The arrears with IRD was around $800,000. Late fees were automatically added on a monthly basis which brought the arrears to the above figure.

After meeting certain commitments imposed by the IRD and negotiations, IRD reduced this arrears to $500,000.

According to Tuhagenga, these arrears were accumulated by previous governments.

He said their government was left to fix it.

The current Renbel provincial government has announced that it has imposed strong cost-cutting measures to control and monitor its finances.

A recent development in the Tuhagenga-led government which saw the replacement of the provincial Education Minister, Richard Tepuke, last week is also part of the measures the current government is taking to reduce unnecessary spending.

The then Minister, who reportedly stayed for extra days at the Green Motel without authorization, has been replaced.

Efforts to cut provincial spending has prompted the provincial Secretary to also issue a memo to all heads of Division in the provincial office in Tigoa about changes to imprest usage.

In the memo the provincial secretary informed all divisions that provincial funds must be properly managed to reduce accumulating unretired imprests.

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