Solomons Agricultural Secretary Resigns Over Cocoa, Coconut Funds

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Wickham refuses to release project funds to politicians

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 12, 2013) – Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Frank Wickham has resigned amidst pressure on him to release funds earmarked for cocoa and coconut project to politicians.

Mr Wickham could not be reached for comments, but officials from his ministry have confirmed his resignation.

It’s understood his letter of resignation is still with the Public Service Commission.

The Ministry has allocated $38 million in its budget this year for cocoa and coconut developments - $19 million for each of the two crops.

But politicians are demanding the ministry to channel the funding through them.

However, officials from the ministry said Mr Wickham does not want the funds to go through politicians.

"He has refused to sign for the release of the funds," one official said.

"Mr Wickham believes as soon as the funds are channeled through politicians, they will be used for political purposes than for intended projects," the office added.

"He believes that he will be doing injustice to farmers of this country if he allows politicians to take control of the funds.

"If politicians have their way, it must be not him who release the funds but another PS. This is why he resigned."

The Solomon Star understands the funds are still held by the ministry.

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