The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade today has clarified misleading media reports asserting excessive spending by Minister William Haomae during his recent attendance at the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers Meeting in Brussels last week.

The reports in the Solomon Star newspaper yesterday claimed Minister Haomae and his six-member team incurred excessive bills close to SBD$750,000 while in Brussels.

However, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, George Hiele said the author of the articles failed terribly to contact relevant authorities to verify facts surrounding the trip.

The total cost of Minister Haomae's team was SBD$460,000, which covered air tickets, accommodation and daily living, allowances.

An additional SBD$150,000 was requested purposely to cover accommodation and living allowance for Chief Desk Officer, Mr Henry Zimbo who was earlier deployed to Brussels to provide administrative and logistical support to Ambassador Joseph Ma'ahanua for and during the meeting.

The SBD$150,000 has been duly approved by Cabinet for payment and early transfer to Brussels but is still pending at the National Treasury here in Honiara.

A separate request for a total quarterly grant of SBD$499,000 was also being made for the Solomon Islands Mission in Brussels. This funding is a normal grant that our overseas Missions receive on quarterly basis to cover their operational costs. It is not part of Mr Haomae's expenditure.

It is hoped that funds for the SBD$499,000 grant is paid at the earliest possible time to our Brussels Mission to cater for costs already incurred.

Mr Hiele said it is important that people know that Solomon Islands stand to benefit from the ACP-EC Meeting through future European Union Development Assistance to the country.

"In order for Solomon Islands concerns and interests to be taken on board, the country must be represented at the meeting," Mr Hiele explained. "As President of the ACP-EC Council of Ministers, Mr Haomae is obliged to attend because he has to chair proceedings of the meeting."

Copyright @ 2009. Government Communications Unit (GCU). All Rights Reserved.