ALLOW me to respond to an article by AATAI JOHN of Solomon Star issue 6667 dated 9 August 2017.
Thank you for the article and I need to respond as follows.
There are always two sides to a coin and I have to express and clear the air of the allegations as stated in the Draft Audit Report as referred to as Special Audit Report.
I have my draft response to the report, but I have reservation to submit it because I know something fishy is happening behind the scene.
Some background information for the public to know to have a balanced view.
The draft audit report is based on the politically motivated move by Stephenson Piringisau, the then Under Secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Aviation, to the authorities in 2014 or there about.
The draft audit report does follow the allegations by Mr Piringisau hence what is stated in the report basically reflected what Piringisau mentioned in his letter.
To me the auditors from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), who are responsible for conducting the audit, are NOT conducting their tasked in a balance and professional manner.
What is reflected is all negative and the positive improvements in the CAASI (Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands) office were never been reported.
The positive aspect that was never dwell on in the draft report is that when I take the responsibility as Acting Director of CAASI April 2013, there was literally NO MONEY in the special fund.
The actual balance in the bank was $230,000.
How can one manage an organization that is responsible for ICAO implementation protocols?
Yet by the end of 2013 in December, I managed to save $4,800,000.00 with the same operational costs as my previous predecessor.
By the end of 2014 I managed to save $6,200,000.00 in the fund. Why was this fact not reflected in the draft audit report?
When the auditors (three of them) came on the first day, we discussed the allegations and the next visit they took all documents (PV’s, etc) to the OAG office for them to conduct their task.
They gave me a few calls about documents and I told them that they are available.
They never bothered to come to collect the documents or to verify them.
Those documents are still in the office and I hope no one is tempering with them.
On the issuing of contracts to Civil Aviation workers, I will just say this as well presented by the President of the United States in one of his speeches on Easter Sunday 2017:
“I also want to give a special message to those struggling Americans (or I would say Solomon Islanders in CAASI office) who have felt for too long the bitter taste of hardship.
“I want you to know: this White House (This Acting Director) is fighting for you.
“We are fighting for every American (Solomon Islander) who has been left behind.
“We are fighting for the right of all citizens to enjoy safety and peace — and to work and live with the dignity that all children of God are entitled to know.”
Furthermore, I wish to state that I’ve got permission from the Public Service to grant contracts to staff of the Civil Aviation department.
The draft audit report is flawed as far as I know for the following reasons:
The allegation that I bought vehicle from Fred Peter for $263,230.00 on the 29th of May is false.
I can prove that from my records.
As to IT services, Fred Peter has been with the Ministry and Civil Aviation since 2006, not as stated by the draft audit report.
Again this is from Piringisau’s allegation.
The decision that I took was to save the country from being black-listed by ICAO.
Those decisions have to be done by me and those involved the breaching of procurement procedures. I believe that’s all I breached.
There are situations that one has to make decisions in hard times to save the country.
If the OAG could only know what is involved that will be different.
There are four signatories to the special aviation fund, NOT two as claimed in the report.
This again is another liar by auditors.
The four signatories are: PS MOFT, Assistant Accountant General, Chairman of CAASI and the Director of CASSI.
Reports of unauthorized payments are bluntly another liar. As far as I know, no signature, no payment, unless the requisition is not authorized or the PV not signed in the authorized column.
Failure to prepare budget for use of Aviation Fund is another Liar.
I have prepared budget for 2013 and 2014. I have all the documents to prove this.
On this noted, I wanted to put on record that the chairman of CAASI, the Attorney General, and the Permanent Secretary, MCA, lied to Cabinet early this year, saying that there is NO money in the Aviation Fund and I did not prepare a budget hence I breached the procedures for using the fund.
To the public I want to assure you that all budgetary requests from Civil Aviation were given to PS Virivolomo to cater for CAASI was presented and after numerous calls from me to include in the 2017 budget, the PS’s response was I will take care of it, and see what happens?
Politically motivated by the learned Attorney General, Mr Apaniai and PS Virivolomo to get rid of me in the acting role and that’s fine.
The chairman Mr Apaniai got upset with me for sending him operational issues, which I needed his advice because of the decision he made and his response was, “Just follow my advice, YOU are NOT a LAWYER” end of quote.
This attitude does not help at all and shows his lack of understanding in Aviation technical matters.
Mr Apaniai emailed me when he was so upset and said to me: ONE of US has to GO.
I know that he is on the upper hand because he was a former judge, a professional lawyer, a professional administrator, wants everything to go by him and no wonder the AG’s staff are scared and start moving away.
To me personally, he is not a good manager. He gets upset and made decisions especially when I step on his toe and his comfort zone.
Lastly, I think I have served the country in regards to its obligation to ICAO and international stakeholders in our continuous monitoring of safety oversight obligations and have lift the implementation percentages from 27% to nearly 45%.
I am proud of that performance and at least I have proved myself in the international forum to stand firm for the country.
I want to thank the Government for employing me for the past 37 Years of service and I think it’s time for me to move on and leave the office for the Chairman Apaniai and Mr Virivolomo to take care of.
To correct the news reports, I was not removed; my acting appointment was relieved.
I am still a staff of CAASI. I will think about that later.
So, the audit report is full of personnel attack, character assassination, flaws and liars.
I want to thank those officers from the OAG, Stephen Piringisau and his team, Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka, the Chairman of CAASI James Apaniai, and the PS Virivolomom for a job well done.
I have no hard feelings about what you all have done and you are doing your job.
As the chairman said to me in one of his emails: “YOU ARE NOT A LAYWER”.
I want to say this that in your profession “TWO LAYWERS WILL NEVER AGREE”.
God bless us all. I pray that God will forgive those that sin against me and I forgive you all those that I mention in my article here.
The positive improvement in CAASI during my time has never been given due respect and appreciation especially the continuous monitoring of Safety Oversight Obligation of our Aviation Industry.
People come and go so let’s move on and let the good Lord lead.
By GEORGE SATU