Solomon Islands Risk Losing $26 Million Grant For Port Construction

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Japanese government concerned about Port Authority controversy

By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 26, 2013) – Solomon Islands risked losing US$26 million grant from Japan for the construction of a new berthing port unless the controversial SIPA (Solomon Islands Ports Authority) saga is addressed in time.

According to sources, the Japanese government is still waiting on the national government to address the controversial saga surrounding SIPA and its leadership.

The sources also revealed once the matter is settled, then the government along with SIPA and the Government of Japan will have to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) before December, when Japan’s parliament convenes.

However, the situation looks far from being resolved, sparking frustration and confusion amongst SIPA staff and customers as to who is SIPA’s head and CEO.

The saga started following the sacking of the SIPA board by Minister of Infrastructure, Seth Gukuna, following the board’s refusal to act on Mr Gukuna’s directive to reinstate former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William Barile to office.

However, following numerous advices from the Attorney General to have the SIPA board reinstated, that particular process has not yet eventuated according to sources within the organisation.

"Currently SIPA has two CEO’s, Mr William Barile who was controversially appointed by the Minister and Glyn Joshua who was the Acting CEO prior to Barile’s appointment.

"There is also a split in SIPA, some going with Barile and others with Joshua.

"With such continuing, we will never have the matter resolved before December.

"Responsible authorities need to intervene and have this settled once and for all, as missing out on the grant will be a big blow, especially for trade in the Solomon Islands," a source said.

Attempts to talk to both Mr Barile and Mr Joshua yesterday were unsuccessful.

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