Claims emerge of Cabinet abusing its power

Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Photo credit: SICR

The Cabinet under the leadership of Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela has used its power to force the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to include its unbudgeted supplementary in the 2018 Supplementary Appropriation (No2.) Bill 2018.

The revelation came after a total of $429,815 supplementary estimates were appropriated by the Parliament last week for bills incurred by the Prime Minister’s camp at Heritage Park Hotel last November during lobbying to form the current government and $750,000 estimates for lunch for the cabinet and caucus.

Director of Budget Unit within the Ministry of Finance and Treasury-Mr Coswal Nelson told SIBC Online in an interview, their decision to recommend in favour of the unbudgeted Supplementary for government’s rental and lunch is purely political and unbudgeted spendings should not be included in any government budget.

Mr Nelson said, this has been one of the biggest challenges for his unit because the cabinet uses its political influence to undermine the budgetary process.

The Budget Unit Director made his statement to support the outspoken member of Parliamentary Accounts Committee and Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langlanga Constituency-Hon Matthew Wale, who said prior to the passing of the supplementaries that they are illegal and unethical and therefore should not be appropriated by Parliament.

Also commenting against the unbudgeted supplementary, Chief Executive Officer of Transparency Solomon Islands Mrs. Ruth Lilogula who said, TSI shares this view because unbudgeted supplementary is unjustified and should not be shouldered by the country’s tax payers.

“I agree totally with honorable Mathew Wale’s comment to remove these two items from the supplementary appropriation bill or from the supplementary bill which they submitted because it is unjustified and it is not appropriate for members of Parliament or those we chose.”

Meanwhile, the Attorney General Gilbert John Osmond Muria Junior defended the constitutionality of the unbudgeted supplementary.

He explained, as long as the Cabinet approves the supplementary and the Parliament passes it, the supplementary becomes legal under the provision of Solomon Islands Constitution, its use is another question.

“As long as it is appropriated by our constitution, it is like Cabinet approves it to Parliament, Parliament by way of appropriation agrees to the consolidated fund and it is covered and the question of whether there is good use of funds and the legality of it is covered as long as Parliament appropriates it.”

Muria Junior made the legal clarification prior to the passage of the bill last Wednesday.

By: Fred Osifelo

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