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Minister’s trip to Renbel questioned

RENBEL premier has questioned the visit to his province by the Minister for Forestry Bartholomew Parapolo without the courtesy to call on him.

Premier Collin Singamoana had questioned the visit made to his province Monday this   week by the minister and his Permanent Secretary and ministry officials.

Premier Singamoana said as head of the provincial government of Renbel, he felt embarrassed and humiliated at not having been informed about the trip or even the courtesy to call on him at his office at Tigoa provincial headquarters.

Premier Singamoana said the Government Minister and his senior official even failed to inform his Provincial Secretary or his deputy.

He said the failure by Government officials in by-passing normal protocol procedures casts much to be debated on why such situation was allowed to happen.

Premier Singamoana said he felt sad and angry because he believes the action of the Minister of Forestry and his senior officials in by-passing his office was not right.

He said as a matter of protocol, the Provincial Executive has a right to know in advance any business undertaking government or anyone else for that matter  who  has business interest in the province.

“We have laws and regulations governing the functions and operations of respective governing authorities that requires us to respect and follow the correct procedures,” Mr Singamoana said.

“It stands out clear that what the Minister for Forestry and his senior officials did was not right,” he said.

He said anything about Renbel Province be it mining or logging operation, his government should be well informed.

Premier Singamoana said what had transpired clearly demonstrated the bosses are helping themselves putting their own interests first.

He further alleged the trip could have been funded by Asian Pacific Investment Development.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Forestry and Research, Vaeno Vigulu denied THE allegations.

“I would like to clarify here that Renbel Premier was a liar saying we never made a courtesy call to the provincial government.”

“The truth is when we arrived at Tigoa airstrip on Monday the first thing our delegation did was to make  a courtesy call on the Provincial Secretary since the Premier was away in Honiara at the time.’’Mr Vigulu said.

“I spoke on behalf of the delegation and briefed the Provincial Secretary about the purpose of our trip to Rennell island,” he said.

“We informed them that we were there to see for ourselves what APIDwas doing because what we understood was that APID did not have a felling licence to operate logging since they are a mining company.

“We wanted to witness and proof for ourselves since we were aware of the fact APID did not meet the legal requirements  to do logging there,’’Mr Vigulu said.

The Permanent Secretary however, confirmed that APID had funded the cost of the trip, although a spokesman from APID had earlier denied funding by APID, most probably based on the re-imbursement arrangement.

“Yes, I can confirm APID has funded our trip to Rennel to have a look into their operation on the island,”Mr Vigulu said.

He pointed out that under the agreement between his Ministry and APID, the cost of the trip would be re-imbursed when the Ministry has money made available under normal budgetary provisions.

By DENVER NEWTER