29 Sep 2009

Move to close loopholes for Solomon cabinet ministers applauded

11:59 am on 29 September 2009

The watchdog group Transparency Solomon Islands is applauding a government move to close a loophole giving cabinet ministers the authority to sidestep court rulings.

It follows an outcry after the finance minister, Snyder Rini, cut a High Court penalty handed down to Malaysian ship owners, who'd been fined 170 thousand US dollars and ordered to forfeit their vessel.

Mr Rini cut the penalty to 21 thousand US dollars and returned the ship after a separate payment of 35 thousand dollars.

Those discretionary powers are set to be taken away by Parliament next month, a move welcomed by Bob Pollard, the spokesperson for Transparency Solomon Islands.

"It really has been a source of problems over many years. Ministers have used, you know, discretionary powers with no sense of accountability, no transparency whatsoever. Government loses millions of dollars and there is no point."