$1.4 MILLION CAR PURCHASE RAISES QUESTIONS IN SOLOMONS

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By Robert L. Iroga

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 6) - A political appointee is believed to be behind a deal to bring in 50 new Government vehicles. This was allegedly done without the knowledge of responsible Government authorities.

Already 30 of the vehicles, each costing around SB$200,000 [US$28,000], are believed to have arrived. The Government is under growing pressure to pay up, the Solomon Star was told.

[PIR editor’s note: At US$28,000 per car, 50 vehicles represents an US$1.4 million expenditure]

Questions have now been asked by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. Its chairman, Seth Gukuna, said he had asked the permanent secretaries of Works, Finance and Treasury and Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister. But he said none of them knew about the deal.

"All of them told me that they have nothing to do with that and they denied having any knowledge of it," he said. "I was surprised because these people should know about this."

Mr. Gukuna said the Government appeared to have made no provision for the vehicles in the budget so it can’t pay for them.

"Our fear is the Government may be cornered to pay for them or the company will sue them," the former ambassador said.

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