PMO’ faces backlash: False Claim Alleged to funding of trip
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) faces backlash after it was revealed that the statement issued before their departure, claiming that China would fund the trip, was allegedly false. Documents obtained indicate that the trip expenses were covered by approximately $1,362,370.57 of taxpayers’ money. This amount includes per diems for the 30 delegates, airfare costs, and special imprests allocated solely to the PMO. Of the total expenditure, $530,915.69 was allocated for per diems, and an additional $238,134.88 was set aside for the PMO’s special imprests. The documents also indicate that approximately SBD$311,000 was paid for airfares for the delegation’s journey from Honiara to Brisbane, although the costs for the Brisbane-Beijing leg remain unclear.
There are also concerns that additional special imprests may have been raised within various ministries to cover accommodations and meals for the cabinet ministers. Opposition Leader Matthew Wale strongly condemned the PMO’s misleading statement, calling it irresponsible and an attempt to conceal the senseless spending of public funds. In his scathing remarks, Wale questioned the necessity of such a large delegation for diplomatic purposes, referring to the trip as a “total waste of taxpayer’s money.” He expressed disbelief that millions were spent on a 30-member delegation, most of whom appeared to be travelling as tourists. Wale emphasized the current state of the economy, highlighting delayed teachers’ pay, inadequate healthcare provisions, poor infrastructure, and ongoing economic challenges. He criticized the government for prioritizing tourism over addressing these pressing issues. Documents also revealed that an imprest of $238,134.88 was paid to a non-traveling official, approved by the Secretary to the Prime Minister and Finance Treasury. Wale expressed concern over the approval process and questioned how such a payment bypassed financial management procedures. The Opposition Leader called for transparency from the Prime Minister’s Office, emphasizing the significant public interest in these matters. He stated that the discrepancies were too glaring to dismiss as mere oversight. The Prime Minister and his delegation are expected back in the country this Monday 17 July 2023. Upon his arrival, he will have a Press Conference with journalists at the airport.
Source: Office of the Leader of the Opposition