Friday, 19 October 2007 11:28 AM

Lokopio Dismisses Media Reports of Misuse of Funds

Western Provincial Premier, Alex Lokopio, has dismissed media reports claiming the government has diverted post-disaster rehabilitation funds to individual MPs.

Mr Lokopio was disappointed with the local media for raising false alarm over a seemingly non-existent issue. Mr Lokopio said he was satisfied after talks with Deputy Prime Minister Toswell Kaua and Finance Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, yesterday who both assured him that the funds are not misused nor is it diverted.

The local media this week speculated that the government had diverted SBD $15-million-dollars intended for post disaster rehabilitation work in Gizo town - into the hands of individual national members of parliament in the province who are supposedly meant to manage the funds.

Mr Lokopio said the original arrangement for funding between his government and the national government remained unchanged. "What has been reported in the media is not true," he said. "There's no diversion of disaster rehabilitation funds as falsely speculated in the media."

Mr Lokopio was forced to travel to Honiara this week to verify speculations reported in the media. Deputy Prime Minister Toswell Kaua and Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo assured Mr Lokopio that the government remains committed to honoring its agreement with Western Province. "I'm fully satisfied with the outcome of our talks today and I would like to urge the media to report the truth," the provincial premier said.

He said dishonest reporting is a serious threat to the ongoing assistance from donor partners. He said donor partners involved in the post disaster rehabilitation projects in his province are watching the situation closely and they would pull out any time if the air is not cleared.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province