Landowners unhappy with SSPM appointment - Solomon Star News

Landowners unhappy with SSPM appointment

05 January 2015

GOLD Ridge Landowners have expressed displeasure with the appointment of Rence Sore to the post of Special Secretary to the Prime Minister (SSPM).

 Mr. Sore was the PS of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification who was removed by the past NCRA government over the $18m royalty scandal around 2011/2012.

It was alleged that as PS responsible, Mr Sore authorized all payments, which were later found to have breach the Mines and Minerals Regulations (Royalties).

 A special task force established by the NCRA government confirmed serious breaches and the fraud of more than $18m with critical recommendations.

 The LO Council also submitted a complaint to the office of the police Commissioner, but up until now, no arrests have been made.

 It is understood that a number of senior officers in the Mines Ministry have been suspended and terminated over the scandal.

They include Mr. Sore, his Director of Mines and the Ministry's Financial Controller.

“The surprised elevation of Mr Sore to the SSPM again raises the logic and wisdom of PM Sogavare's choice of top Ministerial and political positions within the DCC,” the concern landowners said.

 "Mr. Sore's case is serious and needs to be cleared first before he can take up the post of SSPM.

"It’s another shameful decision and a direct slap on the face of all landowners of Gold Ridge.

 "We may be forced to protest against Sore's appointment,” he added.

 Meanwhile Mr. Dick Douglas, Chairman of the Gold Ridge LO council and member of the government task force, when asked expressed his council's dissatisfaction and kindly asked the Prime Minister to reconsider Mr Sore's appointment.

“The appointment will surely be very harmful to any negotiations to reopen the mine site.”

But before contesting the recent National General Election, Mr Sore announced publicly he was already cleared of any wrong doing, and has resigned after his suspension, to contest the elections.

Findings of the investigation were yet to be made public and no one has yet been charged for the wrong payments, which amounted to some $18 million dollars.

However, Sore, who unsuccessfully contested the South Vella seat in Western Province under the banner of the National Transformation Party of Solomon Islands, said he was cleared of any wrong doing.

“I would like to let the nation know that I have no allegations hanging over my head. The investigations have cleared me of any wrong doing.

“If I have allegations against me in relation to the royalty issue, I will not stake my candidacy for the South Vella seat.

“But I know I’m been cleared and this is why I’m contesting,” Sore told the Solomon Star prior to the recent election.