Solomon Islands students studying at UPNG have not received their allowances

Honiara (Solomon Star). University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), Waigani Campus Solomon Islands Students Association (SISA) President Jack To’ofilu has described the response given by the Ministry of Finance as ‘mere excuse’.

Deputy accountant general of the Ministry of Finance Marilyn Kodoleke, in response to repeated calls for allowance by the students, said they only received payment instructions on Monday last week.

“We have problems with the budget. As soon as the budget is settled, we would transfer the payments,” Mrs Kodoleke said.

Another problem she said is the delay of the students’ first semester academic performances.

“We were advised by the National Training Unit (NTU) not to release the payments unless they (NTU) receive the students’ first semester academic results.”

But Mr To’ofilu said the explanation does not make sense because some of the students already received their full allowances.

“If NTU wants our semester results before payments are made, then why is that some of our students already given their full allowances, others half and some nil?

“And excuse that the budget needs to be settled is interesting because we thought our allowances for this year have already been budgeted for. The Government must explain what they use this money for. It seems this Government has been using different budgeted money for different things.”

He said the Government should not expect good results when it is the root cause of problems faced by students in recent years.

Mr To’ofilu added that the delay of their academic results is not the students’ problem.

“It is the institution that may have been delaying the results, but we have no influence over that so you cannot use that to punish us.

“This is a serious matter because it will only affect us students in terms of our academic and social welfare.”

When the Director of the National training Unit NTU Selu Maezama was contacted, he denied giving any directive for the Ministry of Finance to hold up payment awaiting results.

“We put to the Ministry our payments requests on June 27, for all our students both in the country and abroad, not Monday 22 as the Ministry of Finance said was received.

“What we have been waiting for now is the feedback from Ministry of Finance as to whether the payments have been released or not; but payment should have already been processed and made.

Mr Maezama said they have no idea why the payment has been delayed.

 “For the issue of the students’ academic results, we only received it from individual students and we understand that different institutions have different timing to release the results, but yes we really need those first semester results.”

However he asked the Solomon Star to confirm with the Ministry of Education’s permanent secretary whether he was the one who gave the directive.

The Solomon Star contacted Fred Isom Rohorua who said he has no comments on the issue.

The SISA president urged the Government to put aside whatever their political issue are and settle their problem.

“We call on the Government and those leaders responsible to act responsibly and do the right thing.”

The students are now in their sixth week of studies this week.

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