PANELISTS in a radio Talk-Back show united on Sunday to condemn the government’s move to borrow US$100 billion in loan from a mysterious Chinese broker called Terry Wong.
Ruth Liloqula, executive director of Transparency Solomon Island; Edward Ronia, former Auditor General and Denton Rarawa, former Governor of Central Bank were panelists in the talk-back show organised by the national broadcaster.
Earlier, Finance Minister Harry Kuma said he has the legal responsibility under the Public Finance Management Act 2013 to borrow money on behalf of the government.
But the panelists collectively stated the powers Kuma referred to does not legitimise nor legalise his actions even if they are in the country’s national interest.
Liloqula led the onslaught saying that the DCGA government has grown in popularity for always defending and hiding behind the law and or legislations against anyone or organization criticising its decisions and actions.
“Just because it’s legal, it does not mean that its right and most certainly this enormous sum of money and the mode in which it is pursued is not right,” she stressed.
She mentioned that it is irresponsible of the government to continue with the proposed loan.
“The government must move away from its attitude of sidelining popular opinions and views on matters of national interest because the power they exercise in office belongs to the people,” Liloqula iterated.
She further requested the government to be open and transparent with its plans with regards to loans.
“I am surprised that the DCGA government even considers such a colossal off-shore loan whilst it still having problems repaying its low interest-rate domestic loans with Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) amongst others,” she pointed out.
Liloqula said that the most unfair and injustice the people of Solomon Island would ever wake up to is the 11% interest which amounts to USD$11 billion payable to the broker in this case.
“Terry Wong would be living in luxury whilst future generations continue to foot the repayment bill created by a government that legitimise its actions and decisions on the law despite its controversies.”
She added that whenever the country decides on acquiring a loan, it should be from known and reputable sources and not from shady individuals or private organizations.
Also contributing to the discussion was Ronia who questioned the wisdom of our leaders in even considering the loan arrangement in the first place.
“Had our leaders known this country and its economic status they would have reasoned that what they are embarking on is way beyond the economic potentials of our country,” Ronia said.
He went on to say that either the government do not know what it is doing or simply careless of public opinion and criticism.
“The Minister of Finance and Treasury has, in this case, exercised his powers well beyond the limit and must not be allowed to proceed with this loan proposal,” the former Auditor General emphasized.
Concurring with comments made by the first two panelists, the former governor of CBSI Rarawa said that although the minister of Finance and Treasury is vested with the legal power to obtain loans, it is important that the interest of the country is upheld.
Rarawa cautioned that in pursuing loans, it is equally the responsibility of the minister to ensure that such undertaking does not over-commit our peoples’ pockets and resources and most importantly, endangers our country’s economic well-being.
“On the other hand, it is morally incumbent on the lender to ensure what it has on offer is equally affordable and re-payable in a timely manner,” he said.
By SAMSON SADE