PROJECTS FACE AXE - Solomon Star News


26 May 2021
The Fiu bridge in Malaita province. [Photo: Ministry of Communication & Aviation]

World Bank-funded projects on Malaita face uncertainty


SIX infrastructure sub-contracts to be funded by the World Bank on Malaita now face uncertainty and could be axed, it was revealed last night.

This is because of the stand the Malaita Provincial Government has taken against any Chinese company bidding for the projects, which involved the Fiu Bridge near Auki, 

And the devastating news could come as early as today, senior government officials told Solomon Star last night.

They said the stand by the Malaita Provincial Government is contrary to the open tender policy of the World Bank.

“Once the World Banks finds out that some countries are not allowed to take part in what they regard as an open tender, the World Bank would be forced to annul the tender.

“In this case, the Malaita Province will be the biggest loser because the projects will be given to either Honiara or any other Provinces which accept Chinese companies,” one senior official said.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development were last night awaiting a formal written confirmation from Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani on the stand by the Malaita Provincial Government on the issue of Chinese companies participating in public tender for projects funded by the World Bank.

“Once the formal confirmation is received, the World Bank Office in Honiara would be duly informed. We could expect an announcement to annul all six projects involving roads and bridges on Malaita,” the official said. 

“This would be a sad day for Malaita. This is a requirement by the World Bank, a multilateral funding agency whose membership includes China. China is in fact a major funding contributor of the World Bank budget,” the official said.

Meanwhile, insiders said the full Assembly of the Malaita Provincial Assembly is “unhappy” with what the Premier and his chief advisor are doing about the World Bank funding of projects on Malaita.

“Most of their public statements had been done without the knowledge of the Executive. The Executive wishes to advise the public that the Premier’s chief advisor, Celsus Talifilu, “is no longer employed by the Province.”

“There is a case coming up against him with regard to using Malaita Provincial money [in paying his salary] without being employed,” one insider said.

An annual assessment of the Malaita Provincial Government capacity earlier this year is said to have uncovered more than $500, 000 of the Province’s funds being used to pay Mr. Talifilu’s “unlawful” contract. He has since been removed.

In terms of the working relationship between China and the World Bank, published reports said China has been increasing its involvement in the World Bank's administration and contribution to the bank.

For example, at the end of 2019, China holds 5.05 percent of total votes in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), behind the United States (16.37 percent) and Japan (8.21 percent), while having more voting power than Germany (4.3 percent), UK (4 percent), France (4 percent), and India at (3.11 percent).

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara