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NPF’s current status quo

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Dear Editor – Malaita Maa’sina Forum (MMF) now wishes to bring to the attention of NPF contributors plus the general public about the current status quo in the SINPF.

It is now clear that the board and its chairman have misled the NPF contributors plus the general public how it has managed the social funds.

The MMF made the stance on the flowing facts: The SINPF Board lends $600 million of members’ funds to three commercial banks on a term deposit of 0.15% p.a. to justify the $15 million loan to Tavanipupu Island Resort (TIRL).

MMF has taken this very seriously and intends to pursue the matter for the following reasons:

First and foremost, the $600 million is property belonging to the Fund Members which they should not be deprived off except where such deprivation is permissible by law.

In light of this arrangement, it would appear that the arrangement would tantamount to the following breaches:

First, a breach to The National Constitution [cap1] of Solomon Islands s. 8(1) and s. 8(2) (b)(iv).

Second, a breach to [cap109] of the SINPF Act.

Third, a breach to-s. 7(2) (a)(i)(ii)(iii), and (b) of the SINPF Act.

Fourth, a breach to s. 35 of SINPF subsections (2) and (3) under section 28 and section 33(a) subsection (3) and (4) of this section.

In light of s. 35 subject to subsections (2) and (3), it would now seem clear that the Board only made known to the public and its members about the loans that can be obtained through commercial banks, the DBSI and the Home Finance Corporation housing loans and has deliberately and intentionally kept part (d) which is the National Provident Funds that should have been available to members a sacred secret for reasons only known to the Board.

This part (d) was only exposed by the Board through the Chairman after MMF asked serious questions and the $10 million mark which the Chairman declared is just way beyond reach for poor struggling SINPF members and MMF wishes to see that it must be corrected as well in order to make it workable and conducive to members.

Fifth and most significant, both the Constitution and SINPF Act do reiterate and emphasise that the board as Trustee of the Fund Members must facilitate the lending of moneys to members so that where members choose to borrow money they should be able to do so from the fund.

Indeed, the combined effect of s. 8 of the Constitution as read with s. 7(2)(b) and s. 35(3) of SINPF Act is that as owners of the money in the fund, it is the members right that they should enjoy the use of their money and that the Board as Trustees must lend the money to the beneficiaries as envisaged by both statutory and general laws of trusts.

In view of the above scenarios, MMF believes that it is now clear that the status quo since the creation of the SINPF has been that the Fund Members who are beneficiaries have been left out from benefiting until they reach the retirement age which is 50 years.

For 20 to 30 years during their working lives, citizens who are Fund Members are account for more than 95% have never benefitted.

Instead, foreign banks and non-members of the Fund are the ones who benefit when they met the foreign bank criteria to use the Fund Members money deposited with the foreign banks by their Trustee, the SINPF Board.

The $600 million on 0.15% p.a. term deposit with the foreign banks would fetch the banks $90 million at 15% p.a. and in turn will only pat $900,000-00 ($0.9 million) to the Fund!

The Board has always been of the mistaken belief that the only the investments would bring about better returns to members of the Funds whereas loans usually end up disastrous.

The question is what is so special about the recent loan to TRIL that the board was prepared to lend $15 million of Members money to this non-member foreign controlled entity?

In the interest of what has transpired above, Malaita Ma’asina Forum Trust Board (Incorporated) has placed a caveat over Tavanipupu –parcel numbers 222-001-3 & 4 on the grounds which the claim of MMF is founded are:

(a) Tavanipupu Island Resort Limited (TIRL) is not a contributor or member of SINPF; and

(b) By virtue of Part IX of the SINPF Act (cap. 109), contributors or members funds are protected from being borrowed by non-contributors and non-members such as TIRL; and

(c) By virtue of section 35(3)(d) of the said SINPF Act, only the contributors or members can borrow from the Fund and pledge their contributions; and

(d) The action of the SINPF Board and TIRL in giving a loan amount of $15,000,000-00 from the former to the latter is a breach of the said SINPF Act.

In protecting the interest of its members who are contributors to the Fund, MMF will be filing proceedings in the High Court of Solomon Islands within the next 30 days.

These are some of the serious concerns the office of Malaita Ma’asina Forum Trust Board (Incorporated) wish to bring to the attention of the SINPF Board Members when they will meet on Wed. 21st Nov and MMF hopes to get meaningful answers on behalf of NPF members because the majority of NPF members are Malaitans.

Henry A. Daukalia
Media officer