17 Jul 2002

Inquiry opens in Solomons into huge payment to special constables

10:31 am on 17 July 2002

An inquiry is underway in Solomon Islands after reports that a group of special constables used force to obtain payments amounting to tens of thousands of US dollars.

The special constables had demanded and been paid the money directly from the Finance Ministry.

The constables had demanded the money because they had not received allowance payments to which they believed they were entitled.

A source says a senior official of the Finance Ministry was forcibly marched to the Central Bank to get the money for the constables.

The permanent secretary of the Finance Ministry, Lloyd Powell, confirms he has launched an inquiry to determine whether the payments had been legitimately obtained.

This comes as the Finance Ministry's Treasury Division has closed its doors to the public for a week to discourage people who turn up demanding payments.

A source in the Ministry says they do not have the ability to meet the increasing demand for payouts.

Last month, the prime minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, told aid donors that the country's financial plight was worsening by the week.