According to government sources, the money was paid out by the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change to the Luaniua and Pelau community to facilitate climate change programmes.
However, the source said after some disagreements within Cabinet, a cabinet paper was withdrawn following confusions because the amount was not enough and whether the money was for climate change or to buy bech-de-mer.
But without cabinet’s approval, sources said on 28 December 2012, the Ministry of Environment paid the $2 million through to a private business account under the Indigenous Pelau Business Association (IPBA).
It is understood IPBA is managed by Hugo K’clay.
In a letter the Solomon Star obtained, on 30th December last year, Mr K’clay wrote to the Environment minister and listed the breakdowns of bech-de-mer consignments they would be using the $2 million to pay for.
The source said the letter indicated that the money paid to IPBA was not for climate change purposes but to buy bech-de-mer in Ontong Java, Malaita Outer Islands.
“We are questioning who authorised the release of the money into the private business account without the approval of Cabinet,” the source said.
“And if the money was for bech-de-mer then why was it paid out because as far as we are concerned bech-de-mer harvesting and selling is prohibited.”
When this paper contacted Environment Minister Bradley Tovosia yesterday, he said he was not in a position to comment, advising us to talk to his permanent secretary.
However, several attempts to speak to the permanent secretary were unsuccessful.
But the Solomon Star understands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has already been briefed on the issue and Mr Lilo was quiet unhappy with the unauthorised payment without Cabinet’s approval.
By Douglas Marau
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