By RONALD TOITO’ONA
THE practice of recipients selling materials obtained through their Member of Parliament to non-recipients is now normal in the Shortland Islands, says local Bottle Shop owner Maiko Siru.
He told the Star National Magazine during an interview at his busy bottle shop and bar at Korovou, during a Saturday visit, in February.
Mr Siru is a non-recipient of MP projects for the last eight years because he is a non-voter.
“Recipients of the MP’s assistance scheme are targeting me as a buyer, when they wanted money,” he claimed.
“On numerous occasions, they would come here to sell materials such as roofing irons, Outboard Motor (OBM) engines, canoes, deep freezers, solar panels and lightings, water tanks in exchange for cash or alcohol.
“As a non-recipient, I have to buy them, since it is an opportunity to own them. I have been waiting for assistance as such for so long, but always left out.
“Since those items are available, I just gave them what they wanted and then I own what was traded. That’s simple!,” Mr Siru said.
For the successful business man, who was also a former Malaria Technician in the 1970s working in Gizo, such practice is so wrong.
“I think the MP is dishing out the materials to the wrong people or recipients.
“The assistance in the name of projects under the housing scheme is awarded to those that have no planned future.
“Why are they selling these materials, when they should be building themselves descent homes?” he asked.
In the Shortland Islands, sea transportation is the main form of conveyance.
Someone that owns an OBM can be from a well-off family.
The ordinary people can own an OBM, through the support of the MP.
But when OBMs were sold at a cheaper price, or traded for a few cartons of beer, this is not normal.
At Korovou, Mr Siru now operates a bottle shop that serves cold beers, a petrol outlet, and a canteen.
“These are from my own struggles when I was a former copra buyer, being an agent for the SIMSA. From my savings in the past and my seriousness in going into business, that made me who I am today.
“I am not a recipient to all the assistance from the MP, but I would like to urge all those who are earmarked to benefit from the plenty of support coming to think seriously into making a good living from what they are entitled to.
“The aim of the MP’s assistance scheme towards his people is to help them uplift their living standard.
“Instead, most are doing the wrong thing, as they are interested more in money, than the materials that were given,” Mr Siru strongly insisted.
He said the constituency office also need to do a series of feasibility studies, before started approving project recipients and then dishing out the materials.
“Engaging into such observations will help in many ways, towards assisting the people in the villages in living descent lives.
“These projects are aimed at improving the lives of the rural people, rather than relying on MPs all the time.
“Having said this, I believe the MP will take my words into consideration for future purposes,” Mr Siru told the SNM.