FORMER and current police officers who served at the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea border during the Bougainville conflict have demanded the government to pay their allowances before the election.
The pressure group went to the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday to demand answers from the Caretaker Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo.
The group urged the government to make any payment before the national election.
They claimed if Members of Parliament (MP) can get their terminal grants before the elections, why can’t the government do the same to them.
“This is a long standing issue that progressive governments fail to address. And here we are demanding the government to pay our allowances. It makes no sense for MPs to get their terminal grants and those of us waiting for over sixteen years are still left hopeless,” one of the officers said.
Solomon Star understands Cabinet has already approved the payments for the officers however it is likely to be made on instalment payments starting next year.
Outgoing press secretary of the Prime Minister Douglas Marau told this paper the government has convened a meeting with the officers yesterday and had agreed to move forward with the agreement.
Mr Marau said the officers and the government had agreed for the officers to set up a committee who will be following up on this issue to ensure the government meets its commitment as stipulated in the cabinet paper which hopefully will be in the budget for 2015.
He added that the money was not budgeted for this year so it is most likely it will be paid to the officers next year.
Mr Marau said the government is committed to ensure that happens.
But the officer who wishes to withhold his name said the pressure group did not agree with that.
He said they demand the government to start any payments now and not next year.
Adding, they are waiting on the government to provide them a new paper to sign which will cancel the old agreement for instalment payments starting next year and for the government to make any payments before the election.
The Solomon Star could not confirm if that paper has been signed by the end of the day yesterday.
However the officer said they are urging the government to treat their demand seriously because their patients began to run dry.
“Waiting for sixteen years is just too much. How would one feel to see MPs receiving their terminal grants within weeks when we are waiting for sixteen years for our allowances. We want the government to take this seriously,” the officer said.
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA