Silence over controversial China development fund

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By EDDIE OSIFELO

PEOPLES Republic of China (PRC) Embassy in Honiara continues to remain silent over the so-called National Development Fund where 39 members in the Government received $200,000 each.

This was after the Leader of Opposition, Mathew Wale broke the story few weeks ago.

Island Sun has sent emails to the Embassy but has not received any reply since.

It is still not clear why the Embassy does not respond to the paper’s email.

Cleo Paskal, Sunday Guardian Special Correspondent as well as Non-Resident Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said Constituency Development Funds are essentially legal slush funds given to MPs to, theoretically, spend on their constituency.

“The Taiwanese funded them as well. However, previously (at least as known publicly), all MPs received them, not just the favoured few,” she said.

Pascal alleged the number 39 also raised eyebrows, and suspicions.

“One close observer noted that it is the number, with a small buffer, required to change the Constitution.

“Sogavare is on record as wanting to move the next election from 2023 to 2024, something that would require a constitutional change. And who knows what else he and/or Beijing would like to “adjust”,” she stated.

However, the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement has denied accusations that the Prime Minister’s $200,000 National Development Fund (NDF) is for political expediency and not for development.

“The NDF was first established by the ROC when they provided these funds for discretionary use by the Prime Minister,” it said in a statement.

“Previous Prime Ministers have exercised their discretion in allocating these funds. However, when ROC gave these funds, they did not require that these funds be used for development projects,” the statement added.

“This has now changed under the Peoples Republic China but only until 2022.

“This arrangement is to ensure a transitionary period after we switched diplomatic relations and will end in 2022.

“However, under PRC, the NDF will only be used for development projects upon application.”


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