SORE MUST GO: CITIZEN - Solomon Star News


01 June 2020
Rence Sore.

HONIARA resident Stephen Maki says city clerk Rence Sore should be removed immediately from his position, over the illegal borrowings that is happening within the council which he himself has revealed.Sore made the borrowing revelation to members of the local media, during a Press Conference he hosted last Monday.

He said the council has borrowed SBD$1.8 million from local Chinese businessman and appointed Councillor John Szetu to pay for the controversial Fire Extinguisher trial deal.

That’s because HCC does not have the money to purchase two containers of fire extinguishers it procured from a Chinese company.

Under Sore and city mayor Mamae, the council had this year made it a requirement that every business house applying for a licence must purchase a fire extinguisher.

Maki said after listening to Sore’s explanations and clarifications, much of what he said were mere defences to keep his position.

He said one of the issues Sore highlighted in his statement was when he revealed the council’s illegal borrowing from Szetu which is not allowed under the HCC Act. 

“One of the statements that warrant his removal is his admission that they borrowed money from an individual which according to the HCC Act is not allowed,” Maki said.

He said according to the HCC Act, it is not allowed to borrow from an individual without the approval from the Minister of Home Affairs.

“Not only that, the act only allows borrowing on certain conditions provided that CBSI is consulted and the supplier is reputably sound and offers quality products. 

Maki said the tampering of the HCC Ordinance (the HCC 2020 Budget) which was approved by the full council and gazetted by the Minister of Home Affairs was also another issue that warrants Sore’s removal.

He said earlier, the clerk revealed that the arrangement is non-profitable and the council is not profiting from it, yet it provides receipts and other items to be able to sell the product (fire extinguisher).

“As it now happens, it seems that the company put the product at the HCC office desk, sells it and takes away the money without repaying the expenses of the HCC in its sales.

“So for a non-profitable arrangement like this within the HCC ordinance already warrants his removal,” he added.   

Maki said the act also spells out that any financial arrangement that attracts levy, fee or penalty charge to the public must be brought before the council for debate and if passed, the minister’s consent must be sought for approval before it becomes an ordinance. 

He added that when it becomes an ordinance, then HCC can go on to sale the product at a council approved price and not at an inflated value that is engineered to reap the public for self-enrichment purposes.

 “So the act of charging somebody or businesses as if was directed and approved by council as in the case of the fire extinguishers warrants Mr Sore’s removal,” he said.

With regards to the $50,000 purportedly paid to the late Kaukui’s family via a cheque payable to the Clerk and the Mayor’s personal secretary Ms Claire Guna, the payment needs to be probed as it was done outside of the council’s financial policies.

“The City Clerk’s clarification on the use of the $50,000.00 was merely a cover-up to enrich oneself at the loss of the Kaukui family,” Maki said.

Maki further stressed that the family denied receiving cash and or goods worth $50,000 from the Council.

To say that HCC spent $50,000.00 on funeral-related expenses is a mockery because what seemed to transpire is a huge contribution base from relatives, friends and colleagues.

Maki also questions the good-will payment of $10,000 that was authorised by the clerk.

 Maki alleged that the Clerk is neither an administrator nor a member of the executive and hence, has no power to authorise such payments.

 “I understand that the Executive is the mandated body to give powers of administration to officers within the council establishment and this hasn’t been done in this case,” he said.

 He emphasized that the Clerk is acting outside of his powers when he endorsed the goodwill payment of $10,000.00 and accordingly his action warrants immediate removal from office.

 “To further exacerbate the matter, the goodwill payment is unbudgeted for item and the fact that it is paid draws in more questions than answers,” he said.

Maki then calls on responsible authorities to immediately remove the Clerk to allow for an investigation to proceed into the recent revelations pertaining to his conduct in office.

“I don’t see why authorities are dragging their feet on the issue since it was published in the print media,” he said.

He added that an investigation to prove his guilt or otherwise is the right course of action to take.

 Remaining silence over these revelations only shows the weakness of our oversight institutions to carry out their mandatory responsibilities.

 He also urges the provincial government Minister to advice the City Mayor to call for an immediate meeting to discuss the matter as it bears the hallmark of corruption, misconduct and mismanagement of city affairs.