Sacked PS defends his personal wealth
A SACKED permanent secretary has challenged those who accused him of amassing his properties using stolen public funds to take him to court.
Francis Lomo, who was terminated in June this year from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Aviation, was speaking for the first time to the Solomon Star since his premature termination.
Reasons for Mr Lomo’s termination were not made public but it was widely believed his sacking was related to the awarding of airport contracts and other financial issues.
But Mr Lomo, who is now engaging in private business, said:
“I’ve never stolen any money from the Ministry of Communication and Aviation.
“Those who think I’ve stolen public funds didn’t know about my background.
“It’s totally untrue for people to claim the properties such as houses and vehicles thatI owned were obtained using stolen public funds.
“They need to know I purchased these properties through borrowings from the bank.
“I have nothing to hide.
“People also need to know I’ve been serving the government since 1999.
“The wealth I enjoy now are from my own sweat and pocket. I have not stolen from anybody.
“They also need to know I can run a business because I got a master’s degree in business administration
“If people think I steal money from the airport contracts during my time as permanent secretary, do feel free to take me to court.
“The court is the right place to raise such allegation, not the media.”
Mr Lomo also denied benefitting from the two airfields – Manaoba in north Malaita and Lomlom in Temotu – during his time as permanent secretary.
Those two airfields, which were built under Mr Lomo’s watch, are yet to open for use although they were already completed.
Manaoba became a subject of much controversy in recent weeks after the new Permanent Secretary Moses Virivolomo told the Public Accounts Committee the government had spent $60 million on that small airfield.
But Mr Lomo had denied the amount, saying it cost just $20 million.
He added he never regretted the government decision to terminate him, stating he can still survive using his business skills and knowledge.
Besides Mr Lomo, the government had also recently suspended four senior officials of the Ministry of Communication and Aviation.
They include the under-secretary Stephen Piringisau, a former premier of Makira-Ulawa Province whose recruitment in the ministry has been a subject of much controversy because of his previous criminal conviction.
It’s understood an investigation has been launched into the dealings and conducts of these four officers.
By ELLIOT DAWEA