21 Nov 2006

Solomon Islands Ministry of Commerce and Trade rejects claims of misused funds

7:53 am on 21 November 2006

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Commerce and Trade says only two to three percent of funds allocated for rural development end up in the hands of its officers.

The Ministry yesterday held a session with local media to brief on key developments within the department.

It has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks over claims its officers misused five-hundred-thousand US dollars in funding assistance tailored to bolster rural business activities near collapse as a result of the ethnic tension.

Permanent Secretary Geoffrey Wickham says the problem is that there is a huge demand for the funding yet there's very little funding actually made available by the government.

"Much of the funds were disbursed to the rural sector and small businesses both in Honiara and the provinces. So as for public officers, I presume you'd be talking here around two to three percent."