WHERES THE $1.2M FOR COVID? - Solomon Star News

WHERES THE $1.2M FOR COVID?
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08 January 2021
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Centre (left MFAET Minister Hon. Jeremy Manele and (right) PRC Ambassador Mr. Li Ming with Health PS Mrs. Pauline McNeil and health official (left) and MFAET PS Collin Beck with officials from the Chinese Embassy during the handing over of the funds last year. [Photo supplied]


THE Ministry of Finance and Treasury has remained tight-lipped about the whereabouts of USD150, 000 (about SBD1.2 million) provided by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to help the Ministry of Health and Medical Services fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Pauline McNeil told Solomon Star in an email overnight that “PRC has transferred the funds to the Covid account via (the) Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI).

Mrs. McNeil said the Ministry of Finance and Treasury has “yet to transfer the funds to (the) Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ DP Account.”

Attempts to get a clarification from the Ministry of Finance yesterday were unsuccessful. It is understood that MOFT’s Permanent Secretary, McKinnie Dentana, may still be on leave.

The Solomon Star was reliably informed that the PRC government had come to the aid of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in providing the money. It was paid via the Ministry of Finance and Treasury in early to mid-December last year, sources said.

This followed a meeting in which arrangement for the funding was discussed.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, and diplomats from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

It was agreed at the meeting that the funds, USD150, 000 in all, would be initially paid by the Chinese government to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, which in turn would transfer it to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The money was intended to help the Ministry of Health meet the rising costs of COVID-19 related activities.

It is understood that a week or so after the funds were paid to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, an official from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services approached a Chinese official about whether the funds have been paid.

The official, a medical doctor, was told the funds have been paid as agreed in their meeting.

Now no one seems to know the trail of the money.

There were speculations the funds might have been diverted to meet other pressing costs, including payment of recipients of the government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).

New Zealand government funding intended for Malaita and Western Provinces last year suffered a similar fate, when no one in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, seem to have a clue as to where the funds have gone.

It is not clear whether this has been resolved.

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara

 

 

 

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