Taxpayer concerns over $1.6 million delegation trip to Taiwan

Solomon Island delegates and Prime Minister Manasseh Damukana Sogavare (far right). Image: PINA/PACNEWS

By Stephen Diisango in Honiara

The current trip to Taiwan by a 16-member government delegation in the Solomon Islands is costing tax-payers more than $1.6 million.

This was revealed in a report obtained by the Solomon Star this week from sources close to the Ministry of Finance.

It came after the huge number of officials and the likely cost involved in the trip raised concerns.

The report showed the total cost covered imprest, per diems and airfares for the delegation, which travelled to Australia, en route to Taiwan last week.

The report obtained by the Solomon Star earlier this week showing the delegations travel costs. Image: Solomon Star
The report obtained by the Solomon Star earlier this week showing the delegations travel costs. Image: Solomon Star

The delegation left on Thursday for Brisbane where the Prime Minister attended the Solomon Islands Australia Business forum as a guest speaker on Friday.

The delegation finally left Brisbane on Saturday evening and is now in Taipei.

Budget breakdown
According to the breakdown of the report, it showed the airfare for nine members of the delegation which included the Prime Minister, his wife, government ministers, Deputy Chair of Government Caucus and backbencher are being met by the Republic of China (Taiwan).

While the airfares for the remaining seven government officials which included political appointees, secretaries and close protection officers are being met by tax-payers at a cost of $106,889,20.

The report further showed all members of the delegation are being paid per-diems by the government based to their position and rates, which cost taxpayers $459,967,97.

The delegation will spend about two weeks abroad.

The report also showed imprest being allocated for the trip totalling $1,050,312,00.

All other related costs such as accommodation are not included, the source revealed.

“As such the total cost incurred is $1,617,179.17,” the source said.

Struggling nation
The Parliamentary Opposition Group last week had criticised the trip claiming Solomon Islands have been known to sending huge delegations on such trips with the public having to foot the bills for such expensive trips.

“It is time that the government should act responsibly to ensure that there is value for money in these sorts of trips. As a struggling nation, we must learn to live within our means and one way of showing this is to be realistic with our actions.

“Let us avoid the business as usual mentality but to ensure that we do the right things for our country,” it said.

Members of the Prime Minister’s delegation includes his wife, Madam Emmy Sogavare, Minister for Infrastructure Development Jimmy Lusibaea, Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services Stanley Sofu, Minister for Rural Development Jimson Tanangada, Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey Moses Garu, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Duddley Kopu, Deputy Chair of Government Caucus Namson Tran, Backbencer Dickson Mua, Secretary to the Prime Minister Joseph Waleanisia, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Ronald Fugui, Executive Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister Suzie Wale, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Deli Oso, Foreign Affairs Protocol Officer Philip Moses and Close-Protection Police officers Wilson Maetala and Tome Faisi.

The delegation will return on Friday.

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