TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands(TSI) is questioning the government’s proposed payment of $13.875 million to Zome Enterprises Ltd.
In a statement, Monday, TSI said they have sighted documents showing two separate payments were paid into the account of Zome Enterprises last month.
A total of $4.875 was paid on 8th of July 2015 and another payment of $1.5 million was paid on the 14th of July 2015.
TSI also noted that an outstanding payment of $7.5 million is yet to be processed.
TSI Executive Officer, Edward Ronia added that the payment of Zome Motel (located at Mbokonavera in Honiara) is for the purpose of housing the Ministry of Health staff.
“A very genuine undertaking given the fact that most health workers are finding difficulties in terms of accommodation,” Mr Ronia said.
“However, the issue here is the politicizing ofthe process leading up to the purchase of Zome Motel and the question of whether the proper tender procedure was followed,” he added.
Mr Ronia said in 2012 an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Health and Zome Enterprise management for the transaction of Zome Motel.
But he said an attempt to use Ministry of Health funds to purchase the premises in 2013 was aborted by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MOFT)due to no budget allocation.
“Also during the same time, the issue of $10 million fraud within the Ministry of Health came out so the issue to purchase the motel died down,” Mr Ronia said.
In 2014, he said the issue did surface but again it was stopped by the MOFT because of no budget allocation.
“Finally, on the 9th and 14th July this year, the first two payments were made.TSI’s inquiries about the following of tender procedure have gone un-answered.
“TSI also wasn’t able to find a budget allocation for the payment in the 2015 Recurrent and Development Budget.
“My staff conducted a thorough research into the 2015 Recurrent and Development Budget document but revealed no allocation for purchasing of building residence,” Mr. Ronia said.
“And if this is true, then the big concern would be,did our government just spend public fund on another not budgeted expenditure again?
“Recently we have learnt that the cabinet has approved and paid an un-budgeted payment of $3.7 million to the MV Sun Express as compensation and TSI strongly condemn such un-budgeted payment is not a good practice.
“When the Government gets into the habit of spending money on un-budgeted expenditure, it makes nonsense of parliamentary control through the Annual Estimate and Supplementary Appropriation process,” Mr Ronia explained.
“Our organisation also doubts that the process to purchase Zome Motel was put on procurement tender notice. Though a Central Tender Board No:( CTB.134/03/12) was written on the installment invoice.
“For the sake of transparency and accountability TSI is calling on the Government and MOFT (Procurement department) to clarify to the public if the procurement process as defined by Chapter 7: Supply Chain Management of the Financial Instructions when buying of public goods and services was activated for this payment,” Mr Ronia said.
He said TSI is aware that any public procurement in excess of $500,000 can only be activated by the Central Tender Board in accordance with the five central principles that guide the use of public resources:
* Value for money – buy good quality and at the lowest price;
* Competitive purchasing – let the whole market compete to supply Government;
* Efficient, effective and ethical use of resources – eliminate waste and make only the proper use of Government resources;
* Accountability and transparency – make it clear what has been done and why it has been done;
* Financial sustainability – the underlying fiscal strategy must be sustainable so that it can be continued into the foreseeable future without substantial amendment, particularly without sharp changes in tax rates or spending required preventing a substantial deterioration in fiscal position.
“There seems to be no good reasons for not following these rules for the proper control of public funds,” Mr Ronia said.