The current trip to Taiwan by a 16-member Solomon Islands government delegation is costing tax-payers more than $1.6million (US$205,000).
This was revealed in a report obtained by the Solomon Star newspaper from sources close to the Ministry of Finance. [restrict]
This came after concerns were raised by the huge number of officials and the likely cost involved in the trip.
The report showed the total cost covered imprest, per-diems and airfares for the delegation which traveled to Australia, enroute to Taiwan last week.
The delegation left on Thursday for Brisbane where the Prime Minister attended the Solomon Islands Australia Business forum as a guest speaker on Friday.
The delegation finally left Brisbane for Taipei on Saturday evening and are now in Taipei.
According to the breakdown of the report it showed the airfare for nine (9) members of the delegation which included the Prime Minister, his wife, government ministers, Deputy Chair of Government Caucus and Backbencer are being met by the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Attempts to get comments from the delegation in Taipei last night was unsuccessful.
The Parliamentary Opposition Group last week had criticised the trip claiming Solomon Islands have been known to sending huge delegations on such trips with the public having to foot the bills for such expensive trips.
“It is time that the Government act responsibly to ensure that there is value for money in these sorts of trips. As a struggling nation, we must learn to live within our means and one way of showing this is to be realistic with our actions. Let us avoid the business as usual mentality but to ensure that we do the right things for our country,” it said.
The Opposition Office stated that the delegation is far too large for a Government overseas traveling.
According to Prime Ministers Office, the trip is made at the invitation of the Taiwanese Government to give an opportunity for Prime Minister and Members of his Cabinet and Caucus to pay a courtesy to the Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, following her election victory in January this year. The group will also visit various business establishments and cultural settings in and around Taipei.
Members of the Prime Minister’s delegation includes his wife, Madam Emmy Sogavare, Minister for Infrastructure Development Jimmy Lusibaea, Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services Stanley Sofu, Minister for Rural Development Jimson Tanangada, Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey Moses Garu, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Duddley Kopu, Deputy Chair of Government Caucus Namson Tran, Backbencer Dickson Mua, Secretary to the Prime Minister Joseph Waleanisia, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Ronald Fugui, Executive Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister Suzie Wale, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Deli Oso, Foreign Affairs Protocol Officer Philip Moses and Close-Protection Police officers Wilson Maetala and Tome Faisi.
The delegation returns next Friday. SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS [/restrict]