The government has responded to accusations by Transparency Solomon Islands (TS) that it was not truthful with the direct China flight arrangements.

TSI called the Prime Minister and Secretary to Prime Minister (SPM) liars, stating that those that were on the flight were predominantly Chinese.

TSI says the government had earlier claimed that the trip was to repatriate indigenous Solomon Islanders when in fact most of the arrivals are Chinese nationals. TSI says that of the 104 passengers on board, only 21 are indigenous Solomon Islanders.

The office of the Prime minister, in its statement, says: “Members of the oversight committee, through the radio talkback show and public forum as well as the Prime Minister’s weekly statement, continued to reiterate that the flight was to facilitate the travel of the PRC officials, PG2023 technical team as well as Solomon Islands citizens.

“TSI also accused the government of giving preferential treatment. Everyone that is on that flight underwent pre-departure testing protocols before they could board. Upon arrival they underwent our quarantine requirements.

“All of them are now in quarantine with no exceptions. This is the same requirement that must be satisfied by any other people coming in from countries that have the same risk assessment as China”, the government statement says.

The government says it is very clear that TSI’s disagreement is more to do with Solomon Islands diplomatic relations with China and that TSI is simply using COVID-19 to attack this relationship.

TSI had earlier stated that the risk of bringing coronavirus to the Solomon Islands is just too great and that the country is not fully prepared to contain any outbreak should a positive case be confirmed.