Solomons Provincial Premier Called To Resign From Office

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Stephen Panga allegedly siphoned money from local business

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 3, 2013) – In the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal Premier Stephen Panga is being called upon to resign with immediate effect after documental evidence emerged he has siphoned money from a local businessman without proper financial records.

The revelation of the alleged draw off was made by Guadalcanal Provincial member for Wanderer Bay, Justin Pascal.

Mr. Pascal told this paper that he had in his possession a receipt that indicates Premier Panga has collected SBD$10,000 [US$1,355] as property rates from a local businessman.

"Yes SBD$10,000 and I traced it to the Provincial records I found out that the original receipt was given to the businessman but there was no carbon copy of it in the provincial receipt books," Mr. Pascal added.

"This incident proves that Panga had taken the money with the intent to steal it, the lack of a carbon copy receipt is a testament of that intention," he added.

Mr. Pascal said without a carbon copy of the receipt, it simply meant the province had not received the said money.

He further added that besides the lack of a carbon copy of the receipt, the date written on it indicated that Mr. Panga had collected the money on 28th September which is only on Saturday the weekend that just gone by.

"I only took possession of the receipt on 23rd September and surprisingly the date on it was forwarded to 28th September [Saturday]," Mr. Pascal said.

"When I further investigated this undertaking I found out that Mr. Panga had collected the said funds about three weeks earlier," he added.

Mr. Pascal said the intentional mix up of the date was an attempt to hide what could be now termed as an obvious ‘theft’.

The Wanderer Bay Provincial member said in light of this serious allegation, the premier must resign with immediate effect.

"Panga has tarnished the integrity of the office he holds, and in the process he contravenes standing orders 246 [c] and [d] of the Provincial Assembly," Mr. Pascal claimed.

"As a provincial member mandated by the people of Wanderer Bay, I humbly call on Premier Panga to resign with immediate effect to allow investigation to go ahead on this particular incident," he added.

The Wanderer Bay Provincial Member said Panga’s attitude was undermining and demeaning the highest office of the Province.

He stated that to save him some dignity, Panga must resign at once.

But responding to the allegation on Wednesday, Mr. Panga said that the payment was raised for his housing allowance for this year; January to November.

"The payment was actually not made by me; it was raised by the Provincial revenue collector, Terry Vakea to cover my housing allowance from January to November this year," he said.

Meanwhile, the political impasse remains after eight of Mr. Panga’s executive members resigned more than a week ago.

Mr. Panga was currently leading a minority government of eight members to the non-executive bench’s 13.

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