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Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has never touched a single cent in his $5 million (US$643,979) shipping grant allocation from the Government’s National Transport Fund.
And he has welcomed calls by the former Minister for Infrastructure Development, Jimmy Lusibaea, for an investigation into how his $5 million allocation has been spent in order that the truth behind the allegations can be revealed.
The call appears to be orchestrated to politically tarnish the image of Prime Minister Sogavare as head of the Solomon Islands Government.
The vessel which is the subject of discussion, MV Nuatambu (formerly MV Chanella) is not an “old hulk”, as portrayed in the media article. On the contrary, it is in fact a new vessel, after being dry docked at the shipyard of the Philippine Iron Construction & Marine Works, Inc at Jasaan Misamis Oriental, Philippines from July 18, 2013 to January 23, 2014 (a period of more than 6 months).
Not only was the vessel dry-docked, the full hull (bottom and above water level) was refitted with new steel plates. Further, the rear of the vessel was extended to cater for more passengers and the old bridge of the vessel was replaced with a totally new bridge. After the dry-docking, the vessel was 90 percent new.
This was indeed an expensive exercise and the office of Lauru Shipping Limited can verify these developments for the media or those who may be interested to contact them directly.
The decision to purchase MV Chanella was made by the Board of Directors of Lauru Shipping Limited, in close consultation with Choiseul Province. Choiseul Province owns Lauru Shipping Limited.
The decision was made after very thorough and careful assessments undertaken as to suitability in terms of the size, cargo and passenger capacity, the condition of the vessel, fuel consumption and other relevant considerations.
Following negotiations with the owner of MV Chanella then, a joint delegation from Lauru Shipping Limited and Choiseul Province visited the Prime Minister on May 3, 2016 conveying a request for assistance for the purchase of MV Chanella under the National Transport Initiative Grant Fund.
The Prime Minister very kindly offered his commitment to assist Choiseul Province as a whole and not only his North East Choiseul Constituency.
On June 8, 2016, Lauru Shipping Limited (not the Prime Minister) was awarded SBD$ 5 million under the National Transport Initiative Grant Fund for the part purchase of MV Chanella by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development.
On or about August 10, 2016, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury raised the SBD$5 million and paid it directly to the vessel owner, Chachabule Amoi.
The Lauru Shipping Limited, Choiseul Province and the entire populace of Lauru are very grateful to the Prime Minister for facilitating this most important assistance which is now directly impacting on the lives of the people of Choiseul Province.
The allegation levelled against the Prime Minister grossly misrepresents facts and is an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the Prime Minister.
As a result, Prime Minister Sogavare has repeated his call on the media to verify factual information before publishing news stories.
The Prime Minister calls on the media and those that orchestrated the allegations to apologise to the people of Choiseul Province for erroneously publishing content that is untrue.
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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