Solomons Opposition Slams Gaena’alu Movement Payout

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Sikua characterizes justification given by minister as ‘pathetic’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 26, 2013) – Opposition Leader, Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua has described the Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Hon. Bradley Tovosia’s attempted justification of the Government’s SB$1 million [US$137,100] cash handout to the Gaena’alu Movement as pathetic.

"The attempt by the Minister to justify the cash handout to the Gaena’alu Movement was grossly pathetic. He miserably failed to answer the legitimate questions I have raised over the manner in which the money was paid."

"As a matter of fact, Government Financial Instructions were deliberately hijacked in the case of the SB$1 million payment to Gaena’alu Movement and the Minister should provide some logical explanation as to the fuss and haste accorded to the payment of this particular funding."

"The Ministry of National Planning and Aid Coordination was bypassed in the process of payment of this SB$1 million. The normal procedure of expending projects under development budgets is for line Ministries to submit proposals to the Ministry of National Planning and Aid Coordination for assessment and approval before payments are made," Hon. Dr. Sikua said.

He said the revelation by Hon. Tovosia that the money was deposited in the bank account of the Gaena’alu Movement after it was shown to it was bizarre.

The Opposition Leader said the accusation leveled against him by Hon. Tovosia of doing nothing to help the Gaena’alu Movement when he was Prime Minister was deplorable.

"Let alone issue of non-compliance to government financial instructions, it would have been unethical of me to fund the Gaena’alu Movement during my tenure as Prime Minister just because I am from Guadalcanal.

"Furthermore I have never received any Cultural Heritage Conservation project proposal from the group when I was Prime Minister, neither did I see it necessary that cash handouts are necessary to conserve culture. As a matter of fact the SB$1 million cash handout by Prime Minister Darcy Lilo was a ploy to defraud the Gaena’alu Movement of their mineral resources," the statement said.

[PIR editor’s note: Former members of the dissolved Malaita Eagle Force also joined the outcry against the reported payment to the Gaena'alu Movement; Solomon Star reports that the conflicts have arisen over the payment despite it having been publicized in the 2013 budget as "empowering of indigenous culture."]

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