Govt’s financial woes hit rock bottom as suppliers limit vital supplies
THE nation’s financial crisis appears to have hit rock bottom as suppliers retaliate by slashing supplies for non-payment of outstanding bills.
The judiciary is the first of the victims. Staff of the Magistrates Court in Honiara were forced to stay home part of the day yesterday because there were no funds to buy fuel for staff official vehicles.
Among those affected was the Clerk, who could not get to the office to open the registry on time.
In his absence, Chief Magistrate, Emma Garo, led her team of largely court officials to come out from their offices to serve people who were inquiring about the date for their court appearances and related matters.
With pen and paper in hand, Chief Magistrates Garo was outside her office literally walking from one group to another, asking why they were there and explaining what to do in each case. Solomon Star was there to witness the unfolding spectacle.
She was yesterday seeking permission from the High Court’s Human Resources so she could allow her staff, including the Clerk who was also stuck at home to use public transport so they could come to work.
It is not clear whether permission was granted.
What happened yesterday seems to mirror the extent of the government’s financial crisis, which had begun to show its ugly face in many government agencies.
Patients at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) for example are said to be experiencing similar hardships because the supplier has stopped providing much of the food because the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has not paid the mounting bill.
It is believed this is the first time ever fuel shortage has affected the Magistrates Court in Honiara, forcing its official vehicle fleet off the road.
It is unclear what action, if any, has been taken to rectify the situation.
Meanwhile, other suppliers too are limiting their vital supplies to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) because of non-payment of bills.
One of these suppliers is understood to be BOC which supplies oxygen to the hospital. The company is understood to be limiting its oxygen supply to the NRH due to unpaid bills.
Other suppliers for vital items such as food etc. to the hospital are also limiting supplies due to unpaid bills, prompting many health officers to ask where the millions of dollars in donor funding for the COVID-19 pandemic has gone.
By Alfred Sasako