30 Jul 2002

Solomons government accused of poor spending decisions

10:27 am on 30 July 2002

The Solomon Islands government, which is facing a financial crisis, is being criticised for not controlling its spending.

Figures given to the Think Tank Taskforce, a civilian body set up to advise the government, show that spending in some departments is millions of dollars over budget, while other departments struggle.

One member of the Taskforce, John Roughan, says spending in the Ministry of Unity, Reconciliation and Peace is ten times over its annual budget after just six months, while police have already spent most of their yearly allocation.

"Where are they going to get the money for the rest of the year? I don't know, now this as I said, these figures are not something I dreamed up, these are given to us at the meeting by government, these are from government sources and it's an appalling reflection on the inability, the ineptness of the administration to contain expenditure and to pick up revenue due to it."

John Roughan says the figures also show the Health Ministry, which is struggling to buy drugs and food, wasn't given the money guaranteed it in the budget.

And he says the government has allowed remissions on duty to continue, after pledging to end the practice.

The granting of remissions on imports and exports has cost Solomon Islands tens of millions of dollars in recent years.

Meanwhile, the treasury has announced it will close indefinitely because of threats by former militia members against staff over the government's failure to pay wages.