Solomon Islands Opposition warns Papua New Guinea

12/10/2011 17:48

The Solomon Islands parliament in Honiara. Its parliamentarians represent 50 constituencies.


The Solomon Islands Opposition has warned Papua New Guinea that the K100 million ($AU42 million) grant it recently pledged to the Solomon Islands could be siphoned.

PNG recently pledged K100 million to the Solomon Islands following the conclusion of bilateral discussions between PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Solomon Islands counterpart Danny Philip.

However Opposition leader Dr Derek Sikua cautioned the PNG government against pumping more funding into the government, and pointed to the incomplete PNG chancery project as an example of alleged corruption within the administration.

The grant, which will be disbursed by Port Moresby over a five-year period and will also fund tuition fees for Solomon Islands students studying in PNG, will reportedly be managed by the Solomon Islands Bureau for Social and Economic Reform in Honiara.

But the decision to choose the bureau has come under fire with Dr Sikua saying it should go under the care of the Solomon Islands Ministry for Rural Development.

Successive governments in the Solomon Islands are not immune to charges of misusing ‘donor funding’. The diplomatic wrangling in recent years between Taiwan and China often became a conduit for Pacific Island governments including the Solomon Islands to access funds. The ‘development grants’, often disbursed without strict accountability mechanisms, became a concern for the Pacific Islands’ traditional aid donors Australia and New Zealand.

A report by Australian-based think tank Lowy Insti tute estimated that China’s grant aid and soft loans to Pacific Island states totalled $US206 million in 2008.

Dr Sikua’s warning coincides with the announcement by foreign minister Peter Shanel that the Solomon Islands government will move to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

“The government will be progressing accession of UNCAC as a priority. I have given strong instructions to my officials to expedite the process of accession. We recognize that corruption disproportionately hurts the poor and we want to take action,” he said.