Malaita Provincial Premier Daniel Suidani condemned the decision by the Minister of Communication and Aviation Peter Shannel Agovaka to divert the USD31.7 million dollars World Bank funding for Malaita Province.

In a statement Premier Suidani claimed this is a collective decision by the DCGA government to penalize Malaita Provincial Government in response to legitimate questions raised about the procurement process of the projects. 

Mr. Suidani, who is currently in Taiwan for medical attention, said “The Malaita Provincial Government understands the bid limit set by the Solomon Islands Government was USD 5.1 million. 

“It has also been our understanding that the only bidder was China Habour Engineering Company (CHEC) with a bid of more than USD8 million. It was no secret that even before the SIRAP’s National Steering Committee (NSC) meeting to consider the bid, government officials were pushing Malaita Province to accept CHEC, which they described as “consultation”

He claimed SIG government officials have been promoting CHEC as a contractor for Fiu bridge when NSC and the World Bank has not made any endorsements or final decision yet. 

He added,  his Government made its position clear regarding PRC companies and this should be factored into the tendering process. 

“It was very clear that even before a decision was made about the bid DCGA’s preference was CHEC, Malaita Provincial Government requested a re-tender of the Fiu bridge project. Instead of considering this request, the DCGA through the Minister of Provincial Government verbally requested that the MPG Executive must meet to reconsider its position.”

“Obviously, this is misleading and clearly shows Minister Agovaka promoting the Chinese company although no contract was awarded by the World Bank for the Fiu bridge or other projects on Malaita associated with the SIRAP funding”, he added.

Opposition Leader, Hon. Mathew Wale shared similar sentiments. 

The government already knew about Malaita’s stand on PRC related projects, and that should have been considered in their tendering process.

Last week, Minister Angovaka told SIBC News that the tender process is done by the World Bank and not the Solomon Islands government.

The tendering process is done according to World Bank standards and not the government’s process, a cabinet paper has now been brought before cabinet to have the 31.7 million dollars funds withdrawn from Malaita and back to the airport.”

Describing its as “Sad turn of events”, MP for East Areare, Peter Kenilorea Junior said, “The government needs to tread lightly here as a unilateral decision by the national government to ‘divert funds earmarked for Malaita projects’, SIRAP could have a negative domino effect on the whole national SIRAP Program, especially with the World Bank being involved as a key stakeholder.”

 He  advised the government to keep emotions in check not to jeopardize the SIRAP Program in the country.

 “By this decision, it could have unintended consequences should the World Bank decide to review the whole program, as is their standard practice in situations like this,” he added. 

by Charley Piringi

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