Row on land rental arrears heat up
Opposition Leader Dr Derek Sikua has deplored the Prime Minister’s continued denial of his verbal directive for the suppression and cancellation of names of government ministers, backbenchers and his land rental arrears.
Dr Sikua said it was evident from the whole list of land rental debtors published in the Solomon Star last Saturday that the Prime Minister has been lying.
“No amount of denial by the Prime Minister of his evil attempt to suppress his name and those of his Cabinet Ministers and Backbenchers from being published in the Island Sun newspaper and to have their land rental arrears cancelled would add up to why their names were excluded despite owing quite a substantial amount,” he said.
He said it was evident from the list of land rental debtors published in the Solomon Star last Saturday, despite not being in compliance with the Ministry of Lands normal debt listing order, that the Prime Minister is one of the highest land rental arrears debtors and therefore his name should have appeared in the list that was published in the Island Sun two weeks ago along with a number of other Government Ministers and Backbenchers.
“I am amazed why the Ministry of Lands had not complied with its normal order of debt listing, beginning with the highest to the lowest debtor.
“Nevertheless despite this obvious attempt to cover up the Prime Minister’s dirty linen, those who seek to know the truth will notice that the Prime Minister is one of the highest land rental arrears debtors.
“Why his name was not published in the Island Sun two weeks ago is a question that needs to be answered in light of the reports emanating from the ministry about the directive by the Prime Minister.”
Dr Sikua said as a matter of fact the Ministry of Lands never provided a thorough explanation as to the reason for the “omission” unlike what was stated by the Prime Minister.
“As a responsible government watchdog, I am determined to ensure the truth is revealed.”
The Opposition Leader said the suggestion by the Prime Minister that he raised this issue just to save face for not turning up in Parliament on Friday October 26, 2012, was simply amusing because he had always been proactive in the execution of his watchdog duty ever since taking up office last year and will continue to do so until the end of his tenure.
He said the Prime Minister’s description of him as a ‘destitute leader who just two weeks ago was on the run from attending parliament’ was absurd.
“I am stunned that the Prime Minister does not even know the meaning of the word ‘destitute’ and the phrase ‘on the run’ as clearly demonstrated by his statement and I therefore urge him to buy a dictionary if he does not have one to save himself from the embarrassment of using wrong terms.”
Dr Sikua said the Prime Minister should not expect the public to believe the announcement that he has paid up his land rental arrears until he provides a certified copy of his receipt to the media to publish.
When the Solomon Star contacted the Prime Minister for response on the Opposition Leaders accusations, Gordon Darcy Lilo said he will not waste his time debating with the Leader of the Opposition, on the land rental issue.
“The fact of the matter remained that I had not instructed anybody within the Ministry of Lands to omit my name, or that of my ministers and backbenchers from publication in the Island Sun as claimed by Dr Sikua,” Mr Lilo said.
He said the responsible authorities, who include the Commissioner of Lands and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Lands, had explained the issue thoroughly and Dr Sikua should accept their explanation.
The Ministry of Lands in their explanation labeled Sikua’s claim that the Prime Minister ordered the ministry to omit his name and those of his ministers and backbenchers as a “lie.”
The Prime Minister said no amount of exaggeration by Dr Sikua will in anyway convince the public as it is a mere fabrication.
The Prime Minister said he was also shocked to learn that only a few hours after Sikua had expressed his remorse to him in Parliament for accusing him on the issue, he had released another statement contradicting his very own words.
Re-iterating his earlier call, the Prime Minister said that he is willing to answer this charge in Parliament.
He said Dr Sikua is expecting to get a question from him, on how he got his information, when did he (PM) ordered the officers and who were the officers?
Meanwhile Mr Lilo said he stood by his word that the Opposition Leader is a destitute (very poor) leader
By Ednal R. Palmer
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