UNFOUNDED accusations in a front-page article in the Island Sun newspaper today (Tuesday 29 September) against a top official in the Prime Minister’s Office over an unretired imprest has been described as grossly misleading and “ridiculous”.
The article has wrongly implicated Policy Secretary (Productive Sector) in the Prime Minister’s Office, Gabriel Titili as misusing $121,000 drawn as an imprest to mobilize government programs with the Harifafa Tribe of Suava Bay region in North Malaita last month.
The claims were highly defamatory and necessitate an apology from the newspaper, the author and the unnamed source of the story in order to avoid a lawsuit for defaming the good name of Mr Titili in public.
To correct the claims, Mr Titili has already retired the imprest with responsible accounting officers last week and it is currently being processed among others to be forwarded for clearance at the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
To suggest that Mr Titili has misappropriated the money for other purposes is grossly misleading since the funds were safely and securely given to the Harifafa Trust Board for the intended purpose and that receipts of spending were forwarded to Mr Titili who had retired the receipts to the PMO accounts department for clearance.
Those who genuinely insist on transparency and accountability can visit the PMO to verify the truth with the amount of evidence and records available that will prove that the anti-government claims were ridiculous and unfounded.
The administrative process to properly check and verify the receipts has delayed clearance with the Finance Ministry, otherwise, Mr Titili’ s record should be cleared already.
To further enlighten the newspaper, the author and their unnamed source, the funds were drawn from a budgetary allocation for the Productive Sector in the form of an imprest.
As the coordinating office for the Suava Bay International Seaport Project, which deals directly with the Harifafa Trust Board, the PMO is facilitating an advanced financial request by the group to enable a land mobilization program and meetings by chiefs and elders on the proposed project.
Arrangements has already been put in place to reimburse the advanced payment when the Harifafa group receive their funds when Government make payments to purchase outright the 51 hectares of land for the proposed international seaport at Suava Bay.
The public also needs to know that the money spent on the mobilization programs at Suava Bay has now culminated into a soon to be hosted conference which will draw all tribal parties to the Suava Bay area and the Government early next month in Honiara.
On this note, the newspaper, the author and their unnamed source are welcome to attend the conference in order to see the result of what the money has been spent on and to appreciate the fact Mr Titili has been very hardworking and committed to serve the Government with all his energy and wisdom.
Meanwhile, the PMO has again reiterated its earlier call on the media to be very careful with informants or news sources that are scared to provide their real names or identity when releasing information to the media.
Furthermore, the PMO urges the media to exercise professional journalism to ensure the all sides of an issue is presented in a news story rather than believing only in a single unidentified source that has the potential to damage the reputation and independence of a news organisation as was the ongoing case with the Island Sun newspaper.
Source: OPMC, press release