The Leader of the Independent Group, Hon. Dr Derek Sikua stands by his comments in support of the Chief Executive Officer of Solomon Airlines decision to suspend the airline’s operation Tuesday last week.
A statement by the Independent Office reports, Hon. Dr Derek Sikua responded to the Minister of Finance Hon. Synder Rini, terming his statement as inaccurate, misleading, downright untrue, false and reflect a lack of knowledge of the issues.
But Dr Sikua says the standing down of operations by Solomon Airlines was primarily due to the Airlines’s Board and Minister Rini’s refusal to engage in open dialogue with management, and the lack of timely payments to settle the government’s debts with the Airline.
Sikua adds, Minister Rini’s confirmation that ‘the Government has met all of its financial commitments to the airline’ is a lie, inaccurate and misleading the public.
He says this is because the Government has not yet paid the $10 million under the 2015 Community Service Obligation (CSO) Agreement to the Airline for servicing uneconomical routes for the whole of last year.
Sikua says under the CSO Agreement between the SIG and Solomon Airlines, such funds should be paid in full at the beginning of each financial year and not mid-year or later part of the year as mentioned by the Minister of Finance.
He is sure the Minister of Finance is also aware that the Government is yet to pay Solomon Airlines $7.8 million, a commitment made by the previous NACRA Government as part payment for the twin otter aircraft now in service.
The statement says the sum of $4.2 million paid by the Government to the Airline last Tuesday as full payment of overseas students’ return airfares has been outstanding since February this year.
He should at least, give them credit for building their own Head Quarter office building, purchasing an Airbus A320 Aircraft, Dash-8 Aircraft and a Twin Otter aircraft from their own resources without much financial assistance from the Government over the years.
Sikua urges Rini to treat Solomon Airlines fairly just like any other State Owned Enterprise.
Sikua says Rini as Minister responsible ought to get back to basics and change his attitude and approach.