Solomons PM Denies Cost Of Promised Hospital For Malaita

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Sogavare: Opposition claims of $48 million development ‘laughable’

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 24, 2015) – Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare has described as laughable, allegations that he had promised $387 million [US$48 million] for the development of a new hospital in Malaita Province.

Prime Minister Sogavare was responding to claims made by the National Parliamentary Opposition Group alleging that along with Nazar group of companies have promised to spend $387 million on a new modern hospital facility for Malaita Province.

But in an exclusive interview with Solomon Star last night, Prime Minister Sogavare categorically denied having made any such promise or undertaking as claimed by the parliamentary opposition group.

"I want to assure the people of this nation and Malaita province for that matter that no such amount of funds as claimed by the Opposition group are available for the hospital project," said Mr Sogavare.

Mr Sogavare said, as far as his government is concerned it is waiting for the architectural design of the proposed hospital project before it can proceed to the next level of acquiring funds for its construction.

"I was shocked having been told by the Opposition group that the project would cost $387million.

"I really don’t know where they have got such figure from since no costing or funds have yet been allocated for the proposed development."

Mr Sogavare said in actual fact Nazar group of companies have initially proposed building a hospital for Malaita province and his government’s position is to assist by liaising with the Turkish government source funds under aid to help meet the cost of construction.

Mr Sogavare pointed out that under initial proposals, if Nazar group of companies build the proposed hospital under their funding, it would simply mean sick patients would have to pay for health services they receive from the hospital.

But the Prime Minister pointed out that many Solomon Islanders would not afford paying for health costs.

Mr Sogavare said his government will certainly pursue development of a new hospital for Malaita province and he is confident they would deliver the development during the government’s tenure in office.

In the meantime the Opposition office had challenged the Prime Minister to inform the nation on the alleged $387 million hospital project for Malaita province which it claimed promised by Nazar Group of companies.

In a press statement yesterday, the Parliamentary Opposition said to date there has been no concrete development and progress so far on the proposed development since the Prime Minister met with the Turkish Company at the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC) in April this year.

The Opposition statement added that the OPMC’s Policy Secretary of the Productive Sector Gabriel Titili, had been very vocal about the new hospital project kick starting this year.

And in view of that the Opposition said, the public have the right to know what progress has been made so far on this multi-million dollar project.

"Our people need to be informed on the latest developments as promised since we are only a month away before 2016."

The Opposition statement also questioned the progress on the work done by the working committee within the Ministry of Health and Medical Service which it says the OPMC had been very boastful about its establishment in the past.

The Opposition office said it was somewhat dismayed having found out that no such committee has ever been established to initiate plans for the proposed hospital project for Malaita Province.

It said the only active existing committee is the one working on plans for the proposed relocation of the National Referral Hospital (NRH).

The Parliamentary Opposition Group said official indication from the Ministry Health and Medical Services is that Government has neither politically or technically made any initiations to get the proposed hospital for Malaita Province up and running at all.

It accused the Sogavare led government of political propaganda giving false promises and hopes to the people of Solomon Islands.

The Opposition group said there would be no surprises if it does turn out the Nazar multi-million dollar hospital project for Malaita Province is but another scam.

"When this particular group met with the Prime Minister in April this year, their proposal included the establishment of a five star hotel, a housing scheme for public servants, poultry farming, processing, mini-tuna canning as well as fresh and dry fruit processing," said the Opposition.

"The OPMC in a statement released at the time said the company was seriously looking into developing mini canneries at Tatamba, Isabel province and Tulagi in Central Islands Province. "To date, all these assurances have amounted to nothing more than empty promises," the Opposition said.

The Parliamentary Opposition further calls on the Prime Minister to explain to the people of this nation more so to the people of Malaita Province whom a promise of the new hospital including improvement of Kilu’ufi Hospital would cost approximately $2 billion.

The Opposition group said all these rhetoric about multi-million dollar investments by Skyline Investment Group would be better described as ‘fishy’ deals.

It said the Prime Minister must refrain from involvement in such fake dealings by ensuring he analyses what makes sense and none sense with volumes of empty promises.

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