LAYOFFS PLANNED FOR SOLOMONS PUBLIC SERVANTS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 5, 2002 - Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation/PINA Nius Online)---The Solomon Islands government plans to lay off 550 public servants as part of economic reforms -- as soon as the necessary funding is available.

Sources within the public service told SIBC News that the government needs Sol$ 15 million (US$ 2,727,000) to pay the redundancy entitlements.

As the government does not have the money, the sources say the amount will be discussed with the foreign ministers of Australia (Alexander Downer) and New Zealand (Phil Goff) when they visit Honiara on Monday.

It comes as the new government of Prime Minister Sir Allen Kemakeza works to rebuild the economy after two years of Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic conflict and continuing law and order problems.

But, at the same time as the government is planning the redundancies, it is employing more political appointees, including permanent secretaries on special duty in several ministries. It is also upgrading the Policy Evaluation Unit into a division of its own within the Office of the Prime

Minister. 

The Office of the Prime Minister itself has three permanent secretaries - Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary to Cabinet, and Permanent Secretary in the Public Service Division.

Previous governments only had one person as the Secretary to Prime Minister and Cabinet.

While the government is experiencing serious cash flow problems, it has also been revealed to SIBC News that the government lost seven million dollars in remissions within three days. 

Sources within the Customs and Excise Division told SIBC News that this possible revenue to the government was forgone in remissions during two days last week and one day early this week.

The sources, however, did not say whether they were new remissions awarded under the present government or under the previous government.

The remissions were reportedly for alcohol and cigarettes to several businesses in Honiara.

SIBC understands that the new government had terminated all remissions awarded but not yet used.

The High Court of Solomon Islands, in what was described as a landmark decision last November, declared that the awarding of remissions by the former government's finance minister was illegal.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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