THE PARLIAMENTARY Independent group has demanded the DCC Government to explain why they are using $3.7 million dollars of tax-payers money as compensation payment to MV Sun Express.
Leader of the Independent group, Manasseh Maelanga made the request during a press conference with members of the local media at his office.
“I have just heard last week that the government made a $3.7 million dollars payment to the owner of MV Sun Express.
“On behalf of the people of this nation, I want to call on the DCC Government to come out clear and explain why this payment is made.
“I demand the government to publicly state whether they have paid the bill already or not yet,” Mr Maelanga said.
He added that the people of this nation deserves an answer from the government itself.
“We want to know why it was paid to the owner of the fast craft from the tax-payers money.
“The Government must let the whole nation know.
“This is tax-payers’ money and the DCC Government must use the tax-payers money wisely,” the former deputy Prime Minister said.
Last week, the Solomon Star obtained documents showing the Finance Minister Snyder Rini in April took a paper to Cabinet seeking its approval for the government to foot the $3.7 million his group was billed by owners of Sun Express.
Cabinet approved the request and directed the Ministry of Finance to pay the amount, which has been touted in the “confidential” cabinet papers as “Government Support to MV. Sun Express”.
The MPs took out Sun Express on the eve of the Prime Minister’s election to the island of Mbike in Central Province.
It was understood the trip was a private one and any associated costs should be met by the MPs or their sponsors.
Mr Maelanga also told members of the local media that, the trip is a private one and the bill should be met by the MPs themselves and not the government.
“The $3.7 million dollars bill should be met by the MP’s themselves.
“This is because, at that time a government is not yet formed.
“So why use the tax-payers money,” he said.
Mr Maelanga added that if the government do not clarify the matter, there is a high possibility that the issue will be taken to court.
However, in a press statement released from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday, Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has defended the Cabinet decision for the payment of $3.7 Million to the MV Sun Express.
The statement says that police investigation has established that the damages were caused by gunshots and the case is still under investigation.
It says that the $3.7 million dollars payment to the vessel was made upon a collective cabinet decision to support the company following the unfortunate situation and cabinet stands by its decision.
The statement added that the right place to debate this issue is on the floor of parliament.
By RONALD TOITO’ONA