Abolish the shipping grant! - Solomon Star News

Abolish the shipping grant!

07 February 2018
Vehicles travelling through the flooded roads at Kukum, during the recent bad weather.

THE need to upgrade our roads to better standards is more urgent than ever before.

The state of the roads in Honiara is a total embarrassment.

The situation is even worse for roads in the provinces.

Covering the thousands of pot-holes that line up the roads with gravel will do no good.

The roads need a total overhaul.

So to ensure funds are available for our roads, the government must immediately abolish the shipping grant managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID).

The shipping grant, which MPs are also now using to purchase road machinery as well in the name of their constituencies, can go up to $80 million a year.

That’s a lot of money.

These funds should be reallocated for road improvements so that they benefit the nation rather than a few greedy and selfish MPs.

Records of the use of the shipping grant have proven it is not serving its purpose. 

Instead, it has been abused and that MPs tend to take personal ownership of the projects funded instead of leaving it to the constituency.

For instance, last year, former prime minister Manasseh Sogavare revealed in parliament the severity of how the shipping grant was abused.

In one instance, Mr Sogavare said a particular MP used funds he obtained under the grant to purchase a housing estate.

Mr Sogavare estimates up to $1 billion may have already been given to MPs over the past years in the name of shipping grant.

Question is, where are the ships purchased using the grant?

One or two may be still around.

The majority are nowhere to be seen. They “sunk” the moment the sitting MP loses his or her seat.

This is a blatant waste and abuse of the nation’s meagre financial resource.

Yet, the MPs kept holding on to the fund just because they are personally benefiting from it.

If the government wants to assist with ships, it should be helping existing local shipping companies to expand their operations.

They are the ones who deserve government assistance.

MPs should simply keep away from running ships. The records are there to prove that no ships owned by a MP in the name of constituencies lasted four years.

Shipping should be left to private operators. They are the ones who know the business.

In that way, funds that are currently being abused and squandered could be reallocated to maintain our roads and build new ones.

Can our MPs see the current shipping grant is not benefiting the nation?

And can they immediately put a stop to it?