Tuesday, 20 November 2007 9:40 AM

"Scandals, Lies and Excuses" - Lilo Urged to Be Honest

Sacked finance minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, is challenged to explain why he has not implemented an $8 million government funding allocated for the civil rehabilitation of devastated infrastructure at Gizo, Western Province.

Mr Lilo, in September, signed a Financial Disbursement Agreement with the premier of Western Province to disburse the $8 million funding - of which $3 million was allocated purposely for the civil repair and rehabilitation work at Gizo Township.

Official documents from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury showed that Mr Lilo has bypassed the legal tender process to award the civil reconstruction work to a private company which contravenes instructions from the Central Tender Board.

The documents also indicated that Mr Lilo - who led a group of Ministers to join the Opposition - had failed to explain why he signed a $5.4 million contract instead of the initial $3 million dollar allocation for the reconstruction work.

Mr Lilo's controversial deals has angered Western Provincial Premier, Alex Lokopio, over a three month delay to assist the residents of Gizo and other surrounding areas - who suffered the brunt of April's quake and tsunami.

In a letter on October 30, when Mr Lilo was still Finance Minister, Mr Lokopio raised concern over why the Finance Minister failed to release funds under the "Agency Agreement" signed by Mr Lilo and him (Lokopio) to rehabilitate the disaster victims.

The victims are currently living in tents while awaiting rehabilitation.

In a separate meeting with Mr Lilo and sacked former Deputy Prime Minister, Toswell Kaua, on October 17, Mr Lokopio reiterated his concerns over the delay.

The two former government ministers assured Mr Lokopio that the $8 million dollar funding will be released immediately for its intended purpose.

"But since then we are still waiting for the funds," Mr Lokopio said when contacted this afternoon. "I don't know what's wrong with the former Finance Minister and now he's joining the opposition."

Former Permanent Secretary of Finance, Luma Darcy, today also indicated that more than two million dollars has already been paid to the contractor - Red Devil Transport Company - which was contracted to carry out the civil works in Gizo without a proper tender process.