Solomon Islands Prime Ministers trip Indonesia costs $1M

Honiara (Solomon Star): Solomon Islands Prime Minister Lilo claims his trip to Indonesia was fully funded by the Indonesian Government, but documents showed the 10-day trip cost tax-payers more than $1 million

PRIME Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s 10-day trip to Indonesia cost tax-payers more than $1 million.

Concerned citizens group Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) uncovered this yesterday in documents it obtained from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.

The breakdown of the costs include:

Airfares = $665,714.50
Imprest for food and accommodation = $207,048.47
Per diem/allowances (15 delegates) = $182,232.02
Total = $1,054,994.99

PM Lili with his Indonesian counterpart. 
In a statement Mr Lilo’s press secretary Douglas Marau issued last week while in Indonesia, he claimed the trip was fully funded by the Indonesian government.

But documents FSII obtained showed Solomon Islands tax-payers funded almost 99 per cent of the 15-man delegation trip.

FSII chief executive officer Benjamin Afuga said: “For the sake of transparency and accountability, FSII News has decided to supply this information to members”.

He continued: “But perhaps the biggest questions that need to be asked now are:

Does the trip warrant such a huge delegation in this age and time when the whole world is just within the finger tips, does a 15men delegation deemed necessary?
What are the roles each member of the delegation played during the visit to Indonesia?
Can PMO produce a report, outlining the different role each of the delegates played in making the visit a success as has been proclaimed?
What are the achievements of the recent visit to Indonesia?
In a statement the Office of the Prime Minister issued yesterday, it claimed the Opposition misinterpreted the report that the trip to Indonesia by the Prime Minister and his delegation was fully funded.

The statement reads: “The statement in the media earlier last week that the trip was fully funded particularly related to the fact that all expenses within Indonesia were met by the Indonesian Government.

 “It was fully funded in a sense that expenses within Indonesia such as meals, accommodation and transport were met by the Indonesia government.”

Facebook members of FSII last night condemned Mr Lilo’s decision to spend more than $1 million on this single trip while other urgent government services and financial commitments are left to suffer.

Some of the government’s unresolved commitments include SIG Government students’ unpaid tuition and allowances, unpaid electricity and rental payments that resulted in power-cuts and eviction orders over the past weeks and days, unresolved teachers payments, shortage of medication in rural health clinics, delayed school grants and many others.

A FSII member who resided in New Zealand wrote:“This should be the last straw folks.

“With every new day comes further loss to our people's dignity, livelihood, faith in future leaders and government and the list goes on.

“In extreme situation come extreme measures.

“Round up the nation and bring down the tower of Babylon - this is where all immoralities lie”.

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