Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare has defended the Cabinet decision for the payment of $3.7 million to the MV Sun Express for damages incurred whilst returning to Honiara from Mbike Island in the Central Islands Province with members of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government prior to the Prime Minister’s election in December 2014.
A police investigation has established that the damages were caused by gunshots and the case is still under investigation.
Responding to the call by the Leader of Opposition Hon Jeremiah Manele for an explanation about the payment, the Prime Minister said the $3.7 million payment to the MV Sun Express was made upon a collective Cabinet decision to support the company following the unfortunate situation.
The Prime Minister’s media Office says Cabinet stands by this decision.
It quotes the Prime Minister as saying if the Opposition Leader wants to debate the issue, the right venue to do so is on the floor of Parliament.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament Manasseh Maelanga calls on the National Government to clarify why cabinet has approved a $3.7 million payment to a private shipping operator.
Mr Maelanga says, the $3.7 million payout is to reimburse damage incurred before a legitimate government was formed nor the Prime Minister’s election.
Speaking in a media conference, Mr Maelanga questioned why cabinet has approved the reimbursement.
He says the government needs to clarify the issue to the people of Solomon Islands since it is draining the taxpayers coffers.
“For now I would like to know whether the amount of $3.7 million has already been paid to the owner because I know that there is a cabinet decision reached, so I want to know whether the Government has paid this already or not, let the nation and the people of this country know about it since we know these are taxpayers’ money and the government has to be accountable in using them.”