SIBC WARNED OVER SIPA INQUIRY REPORTING

SIBC logo. Photo credit: SIBC.

                                                     SIBC logo. Photo credit: SIBC.

Lawyers of the recently terminated Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) Chief Executive Officer Collin Yow have warned the national broadcaster (SIBC) that it should immediately stop any publication of matters regarding him and the Commission of Inquiry’s report.

L & L Lawyers – Leslie and Lazarus Kwaiga – advised that if it fails to take notice of their warning, they will apply for restraining orders in the High Court.

The matter arises out of the publication in most media of the Report of Government’s Commission of Enquiry into the Solomon Islands Ports Authority.

Work on the Report began in June 2016 and it was handed to Government in late October 2016. The Government has not yet made any comment on the Report.

SIBC will continue to provide the public with responsible coverage of the report.

The Corporation has taken legal advice and doubts that a court would prevent responsible broadcasting of the contents of the report.

It believes accurate reporting of the report on a matter of clear public interest would attract qualified privilege.

The Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the Prime Minister on 13 June 2016 to inquire into SIPA Reform Program and investigate a series of happenings involving influence or action by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and any related matters as the Commission might see fit.

Meanwhile, among observations made was that the ‘incentives for SIPA to perform effectively and accountably have been undermined by official and political indifference in government and improper or ill-advised interventions.

The report adds, over many years, SIPA personnel at all levels got the impression that government officials and ministers did not know or care how well or badly the Authority performed its statutory duties.

Quarterly reports to concerned Ministers and full annual reports to Parliament and to the public had not been prepared or submitted by SIPA for many years.

The Commission proposes a review of the application and workings of the State Owned Enterprises Act which would re-examine, among other aspects, the advisability of having two Cabinet Ministers with joint responsibility for overseeing an SOE.

It believes that SOEs having two Ministers ‘sharing’ responsibility under the SOE’s Act is ‘problematic’.

The Commission has observed, the Ministries responsible for SIPA must ensure that Board appointments are up to date, competent persons are appointed, and the procedural and reporting requirements are being maintained.

It noted that SIPA’s recent experience has been dismal, partly because of failure by government Ministries to facilitate and support the appointment of suitable persons, and partly because of deliberate disrespect and disregard of the governance system by the now departed CEO.

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