MASI HITS BACK - Solomon Star News


21 January 2021
MASI President, Georgina Kekea.

Why was PS coughing when talking about ESP?


The President of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI), Georgina Kekea has responded to accusations being leveled at the media and journalists over the reporting of the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).

The Secretary to the Prime Minister (SPM), Jimmy Rodgers, joined the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury McKinnie Dentana in launching an unsubstantiated attack on the media for lying about the ESP.

Dr. Rodgers pleaded with journalists to “verify” their stories before publishing them.

“Please verify the story before publishing it because if you don’t what you are doing is basically lying to the people of this country,” Dr. Rodgers, a former Secretary-General of the Pacific Community, said.

But Ms. Kekea said while Dr. Rodgers had raised an important point, the problem journalists face on a daily basis is they could never access officials to provide balancing comments.

“We have raised this problem of verification with the government on numerous occasions, but the problem remains. 

“The Government media needs to be proactive rather than reactive to ensure reporters have easy access to the so-called accurate information on the ESP as well as other issues,” Ms. Kekea said.

Meanwhile, members of the public and listeners have asked why the PS coughed each time he answered questions on the status of the Government’s Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) in last Sunday’s talk-back show.

“Every sentence he uttered on the show was punctuated by a forced cough,” one listener said after the talk-back show.

“That sort of behaviour indicates Mr. Dentana is either being untruthful about the answers he provided on the actual status of the ESP or he came to the show unprepared,” the listener said.

Much of Mr. Dentana’s response was “incoherent and confusing”, the listener said.

He attacked the media for spreading what he called, “wrong information or fake information on the ESP, calling reporters irresponsible.” Mr. Dentana borrowed some terminology that former President Donald Trump had used.

He explained that much of the funding for the ESP had been secured from donors as well as domestic borrowings, but not from revenue collected from domestic taxes. Payments, he said, began last week and would continue this week

But he almost contradicted himself by saying that while the process for payments has resumed, he added, “We will finalise other requirements before final payments are made,” Mr. Dentana said.

By Alfred Sasako
Newsroom, Honiara