SOLOMON Islands High Commission in Papua New Guinea has denied accusations it misused funds the government sent for student allowances.
The High Commission’s counsellor William Soaki said the claims some students levelled at their office were slanderous and portrays a negative image of the diplomatic mission.
Students studying at Divine Word University in Madang alleged an email they received from the Ministry of Finance in Honiara confirmed their allowances for the full year were already transferred to the High Commission in Moresby.
The email to the students reads: “Treasury records showed that allowances for students at Divine Word University have been paid full year.
“High Commission in PNG need to explain why students are only paid K1020 per student.”
Based on the email, the Solomon Islands Students Association (SISA) at Divine Word called on the high commission to “tell the truth” on what the funds were spent on.
Mr Soaki Wednesday, confirmed all transfer of funds allocated for SIG sponsored students across PNG institutions for tuition, allowances, and book allowances; adding all these were pooled under one account – the Education Account.
“From this account, funds are released and disbursed according to advice and authorisation of the National Training Unit,” Mr Soaki added.
He explained the matter of part payment of student allowances has been raised with NTU on numerous occasions.
“The reasons for non-payment of full allowances for the concerned students were due to a shortfall in the allocated education budget.
“A breakdown of expenditure was requested by NTU to verify the shortfall in the education account to cover some of the students’ semester two allowances.
“The shortfall covers arrears and current costs of unforseen education expenditures.
“Some of these include evacuation and accommodation for medical students during life-threatening situation at Medical school, Lahara summer courses, Medical rural attachment allowances, to name a few.
“These were unplanned costs required reallocation of existing funds, with the expected transfer for their costs from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development.
“The High Commission will forward an audited report detailing the shortfall, and requests immediate transfer of the additional funds to cover allowances owing to the concern students,” Mr Soaki said
He added the High Commission, in consultation with NTU, made a decision to pay only part of semester two allowances to the majority of students.
But he said UPNG students of Waigani and Taurama campuses were not affected since their allowances were paid earlier before this decision was made.
“The High Commission will liaise with its headquarters, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury to resolve this issue,” Mr Soaki said.