Mon, 29 May 2017
Last Updated: Mon, 29 May 2017 8am
Solomon Star
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A clear case of fraud

MANAOBA Airport in north Malaita reportedly cost the government $60 million to build.

But some three years after the airport was completed, it was yet to open for business.

The airport’s runway was not sealed.

However, it was built to accommodate Solomon Airline’s Dash-8 aircraft.

So it was a sizeable airport.

The $60 million the government spent on the airport had sparked public discussions in the past years.

Some say the airport does not worth that amount of money.

This is why when Central Guadalcanal MP Peter Shanel was appointed Aviation minister, he quickly instituted an audit into how the $60 million was spent.

But one year on, Mr Shanel said the audit is not gaining grounds.

He told parliament last week this was due to missing files and records.

Mr Shanel was speaking on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare laid before parliament.

He said there was a clear case of lack of responsibility and accountability on the part of the ministry in keeping records of the airport funding.

As a result, auditors, from the Office of the Auditor General, were unable to carry out the task.

This is a sad case and one that carries all the hallmarks of fraud.

Like any other government ministry, the Ministry of Aviation has a responsibility to keep records of all project funds.

Responsible officers have no excuses of doing that.

There is only one conclusion if they don’t keep the records: they are covering up for their illegal acts.

It may have appeared from Mr Shanel’s revelation that his is a clear case of fraud that needs concerted police investigation.

Public officers have a duty to keep records of tax-payers money that are spent on infrastructure projects across the country.

The fact that the files and records for a $60 million project have gone missing was simply unbelievable.

Mr Shanel must ensure that this case is not swept under the carpet.

The fact that important financial records of a $60 million project have gone missing means someone is trying to hide something.

That some must be brought to account for his or her action.

Perhaps JANUS should be called in!


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