WORKERS of state-owned Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) are illegally giving themselves personal loans of up to $75,000 or more.
That’s according to SIPA board chairman Nollen Leni, who decided to spill the beans after the employees, through their union, demanded his sacking over current reforms.
“The SIPA Act is specific on company loans; it must be approved by the board,” he said.
“This never happened and employees tend to treat SIPA as a safe haven for financial dependency.”
Mr Leni added:
“They’ve also granted themselves advances totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars in gratuities and bonuses.”
He also revealed employees also approved for themselves unprecedented overtimes.
“Would you believe a security officer receiving a $10,000 wage pay packet per month because of uncontrolled over time?
“This is a daily practice in SIPA and has been going on for many years,” Mr Leni said.
He said it is these self-introduced indulgences that SIPA employees are fighting hard to protect by opposing the current reform.
The reform is being undertaken by consultants from Singapore.
Mr Leni said his board understands the engagement is costly.
“But what else is cheap in this commercial world?
“My board understands the cost of engagement.
“However, when we weigh the cost against the future economic benefits to both SIPA and the government, the expected benefits weigh more than what SIPA spends on this reform exercise.”
The chairman argued SIPA’s problem is internal.
“It has problems with processes and procedures. It has problems with financial controls.
“It has problems with chain of commands and it has problems with financial mismanagement.
“It has never once presented even one audited report of accounts in Parliament since ages past.
“My board is the first to do that and the Office of the Auditor General withholds the report because it has defects.
“These problems need to be resolved by qualified professionals who know how to do the task while at the same time put things in order for immediate changes.
“This is exactly the level of expertise this team has, no shelving of reports for many years without results.”
Mr Leni said SIPA’s numerous internal problems must be put right, so his board felt the right time is now.
SIPA is currently being headed by an Australian chief executive officer, who was engaged as part of the reform Mr Leni’s board initiated.
SIPA’s employees recently issued a 28-day strike notice that demanded the removal of Mr Leni and chief executive officer Collin Yow.
By CHARLEY PIRINGI