Friday, 16 November 2007 9:45 AM

Opposition Claims Inaccurate: Govt

The Government today said the Opposition's attempt to defend certain parliamentary entitlements enjoyed by former minister's who defected to the opposition early this week is inaccurate and unlawful.

Opposition leader Fred Fono yesterday claimed that the revolting former ministers' are still entitled to enjoy certain amenities including vehicles, phones, electricity, water and accommodation for a period of 14 days.

But Secretary to the Prime Minister Rence Sore said the claim - except for accommodation - contravenes the Parliamentary Entitlement Regulation in an event that a minister(s) abruptly resigned or terminated.

"While the Regulation allows the provision of vehicles to Ministers to discharge their official duties but when a Minister, or Ministers resigns, or are terminated from official duties, their entitlement ceases immediately.

He explained that resigned or terminated ministers are only entitled to reside in a government accommodation for a period of 15 days.

Mr Sore said Fono's argument fell short of a clause in parliamentary entitlements regulation, which fails to include telephones and mobiles, vehicles and fuel, water and electricity.

He said this is the reason why the office of the Prime Minister, in collaboration with relevant government ministries, issued the instruction to withdraw the entitlements for Ministers who resigned, or were terminated from the Grand Coalition for Change Government.

Mr Sore said if resigned or terminated minister's wish to purchase vehicles from the government, approval has to be sought in consultation with the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.

He also confirmed that the Prime Minister and his responsible Ministers have directed him to convey that any approval under the regulation for the revolting Ministers is not granted.

Mr Sore said he is further directed to instruct the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and the Commissioner of Police to retrieve all government vehicles from the custodianship of the Ministers who resigned or were terminated from the Grand Coalition for Change Government.

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