By ANDREW FANASIA
A total of $7,256,711 was spent to meet the cost of ship charters during the COVID-19 repatriation exercise carried out between March and April 2020.
That’s according to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) Under Secretary Jimmy Nuake when his team appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing, Tuesday.
Member of Parliament (MP) for West Are’are and a PAC member John Maneniaru at the hearing questioned MID officials if the payments have been paid to these shipping companies to which Nuake confirmed that they have settled a certain percentage to date.
MID finance controller (FC) further explained to PAC that it is correct that the total amount for boat charters alone stands at SBD$7 million which covers every destination around the country.
“So far to date we have paid about 90% of that sum and we only have remaining three boat owners that are yet to be paid,” MID financial controller said.
The MID FC further explained that they need to sort out the tax issues before the remaining three boat owners can be allowed by the finance system to be cleared for payment.
It's understood that between March and April the government has organised mass repatriation for people living in Honiara to travel back to their provinces due to COVID-19.
As part of the plan, the government has injected millions of dollars to help each constituency to repatriate their people to their respective provinces.