Solomons Port Authority Board Defends CEO Pay

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Critics: rise in port fees to cover huge salary

By Bradford Theonomi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, September 20, 2015) – Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) board chairman Nolen Leni has defended the lucrative pay package SIPA is paying its Singaporean-hired chief executive officer.

Under his current contract, Collin Yow draws a net salary of USD$500,000 (approximately $4 million) a year.

He was also entitled to a serviced apartment at Heritage Park Hotel with internet facility provided and a death and disability benefit at USD$1.5 million (approximately $12 million).

It’s believed Mr Yow is the highest paid state-owned enterprise chief executive officer, here.

Critics and SIPA workers believed recent increases in port fees were done to meet the huge pay Mr Yow is enjoying.

However, Mr Leni told the Solomon Star yesterday Mr Yow’s salary package was decided and agreed to by the board.

"It’s a board decision," Mr Leni said.

"The board knows well what has been made as offer in front of the candidates interviewed for the job," he added.

"It was expensive, but it does not come cheap to have the top and most qualified chief executive officer.

"We have made it clear to Mr Yow upon his appointment that he has to perform and make changes within six months in office or we will show him the exit door with his return ticket," Mr Leni explained.

He said his board expects critics to question the salary package but his board also wanted to see changes in SIPA and Mr Yow has been delivering those changes within his first few months.

"I can tell you SIPA is now earning good revenue and making profits. This is what the board and government want for the authority – to be profitable.

"Mr Yow may be expensive but SIPA is getting value for the money it used to pay for his salary and entitlements.

"He has so far done a good job for SIPA and the country," Mr Leni said.

Mr Yow was initially contracted on 15 December 2014 but officially started on January 2015. His contract ends January 2018.

His other benefits include USD$3, 500 per year for medical consultation and up to a maximum of USD$500, 000 per year if hospitalised.

Medical attention or treatment shall be referred to only in either Singapore or Australia in a single private room.

And if he has a hospitalised insurance plan, SI Ports is opting to pay for insurance premium for his hospitalisation insurance plan.

All travelling cost domestically or overseas are also to be paid for by SIPA with a standard travelling allowance at USD$100 per day.

When on annual leave the CEO is entitled to four return business class tickets to his home country.

Meanwhile, a SIPA employee said this huge salary package means Mr Yow would do everything within his power to protect it.

"There’s no doubt he would defend his lucrative contract at the expense of poor Solomon Islanders with salaries that individually or collectively account for only a fraction of his total remuneration package.

"This is tantamount to gross unfairness and injustice unheard of in a country like Solomon Islands," the employee, who asked not to be named, said.

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