Applicant: Economic Stimulus Package a ‘scam’ - Solomon Star News

Applicant: Economic Stimulus Package a ‘scam’

04 January 2021

AN angry applicant has fired this year’s first salvo in the war of words over the disbursement of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), describing the $320 million give-away as a “scam.”

“It is nothing more than a scam,” Community leader Charles Karaori told Solomon Star, Sunday.

Mr. Karaori, who missed out on funding support he had requested in the fisheries sector, said that after waiting for months, he was told to collect his letter from Treasury just before the Christmas break.

“I was really happy, hoping that the $336, 000 I had applied for had been approved.  And the opening paragraph of the letter simply confirmed it. It says, “Your Project has been approved.

“The difficulty I had was whether the entire project was approved. As I now know it was not the full project. Instead, I was told to sign the offer letter for just $5, 000,” Mr. Karaori said.

Mr. Karaori said the letter of offer even contained a Non-disclosure clause, urging us not to disclose the contents of the offer, saying it is a private agreement.

“Now this is not a private agreement. The funding is a public fund. The transaction should have been transparent. This is why I cannot keep quiet about it because of the way government officials have handled the transactions,” Mr. Karaori said.

“The whole thing is not only a shamble but a scam. Taxpayers have been conned into funding a scam, which helps politicians and their cronies more than anyone outside.

“You know there are rumours making the rounds in town that after politicians, particularly on the government side have received the ESP payments, they have become property hunters overnight, buying houses and other properties with hard cash.

“So the taxpayers have been deceived into paying for politicians’ luxury and waste while the ordinary people suffer.

“Yes, I am aware one or two business houses have benefitted, but the majority of payments went to politicians, particularly on the government side. That is the reason why the Ministry of Finance and Treasury has repeatedly refused to publish the list of payments and their recipients,” Mr. Karaori said.

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara