29 November 2020

Community leader calls for urgent investigation into hijacking of ministry by junior officers

AN outspoken Community leader has called for an urgent investigation into the functions of the Ministry of Forests and Research, claiming junior officers have hijacked the work of the Commissioner of Forests.

“Please institute an investigation now before it is too late,” Charles Karaori told Solomon Star on the weekend.

“I have been informed that junior officers in the Ministry have hijacked the work of the Commissioner of Forest, who by statute is the only officer mandated by law to sign off on documents coming out from the Ministry.

Neither the Ministry nor the Office of the Commissioner of Forest could be contacted for comments last night.

Mr. Karaori said the situation was more apparent during calls for applications for assistance under the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) a few months ago.

“This situation was more pronounced during the call for applications from the forestry sector for assistance under the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP). Junior officers simply took over the work of the Commissioner, he said.

“In fact, junior officers simply ran amok in signing off applications for assistance. This is not their job. But whether or not the Commissioner is aware of this I do not know. In any case, junior officers should never be allowed to sign off any documents on behalf of the Commissioner in the first place,” Mr. Karaori said.

“The point that I wish to make here is that under the law it is only the Commissioner who can sign off on these types of documents, no one else. To allow this practice to continue will only result in one thing – running down the Ministry to a point where it becomes the junior officers’ playground in whatever they wish to do,” Mr. Karaori said.

He is calling on senior officers in the Ministry, particularly in the marketing section to come forward with their story because they too had been sidelined.

“This is a very serious matter and the Government must act immediately to stop the Ministry from sliding further into chaos,” Mr. Karaori said.

The outspoken Community leader from West Are’Are on Malaita also raised allegations that officers in the Ministry no longer recognise any indigenous Solomon Islands nationals seeking help.

“No one recognises you anymore. They do not even talk to you. You can sit outside the Ministry all day long and no one recognises you.

“The treatment given to foreigners is very different. Foreigners do not have to come out of their vehicles to be served. The officers simply run out to the car park with large envelopes in hand to serve them.”

By Alfred Sasako
Honiara Newsroom