THE Minister of Home Affairs Chris Laore has been urged to inform the public whether the Honiara City Council (HCC) has sought his approval to borrow $1.8 million for the fire extinguisher deal or not.
Sacked Finance Chair Cr. Billy Abae made the call in an interview following his arrival from his home province of Malaita.
City mayor Wilson Mamae and city clerk Rence Sore borrowed the $1.8 million from local Chinese businessman and appointed councillor John Szetu.
But instead of putting the procurement on tender, they just went ahead and purchase the fire extinguishers from China.
Sore then hastily made it a requirement that business houses applying for a licence must purchase fire extinguishers before their licences can be issued.
However, money received from the sale of those fire extinguishers were never deposited into the council’s bank accounts.
It was collected by Sore at the end of each day.
Of the two containers of fire extinguishers imported from China, only half of one of the containers has been sold so far.
Abae said that according tothe Public Finance Management Act 2013,the minister has the power to endorse and approve any loan or borrowing and or otherwise where he deemed necessary.
“Therefore the minister must confirm to the public whether he receives any request from the Council calling for his final blessing to borrow the funds,” Abae said.
“Because I know the full council did not approve the borrowing though I am a member of the 4Cs,” he added.
He said the initial discussions that the Clerk and the Mayor insisted on is not a meeting and although the councillors requested them to bring that into the full council meeting, they failed to do that.
“Why force it on us 4Cs?
“They should have brought that to the full council meeting for debate and approval,” he added.
Abae said the pop up of the fire extinguisher deal has surprised even some of them within the 4cs.
“I want to call on the minister to tell the truth whether an approval is made by him or a request is made from the HCC to you on that borrowing.
“That will then answer all the critics and argument because the residents of Honiara need to get the truth of this issue.”
Abae said borrowing such large sum of money should be discussed during the full council with approval from the minister.
“I believe that this has not happened.”
He said the act is there to guide the way leaders run the affairs of the people.
“However, if leaders act in contravention to the Act, they are destroying the institutions and regrettably, can be held to account for their actions.
“An Act is an Act of Parliament and if the Minister knows his responsibilities, he is duty-bound to act accordingly in this regard,” he said.
Laore has chosen to remain silent over the many allegations within the HCC in recent days despite calls for him speak up.
By IAN M.KAUKUI