PM Sogavare welcomes call for “ghost companies” probe

PRIME Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has acknowledged the call by the Parliamentary Opposition Group for the government to investigate ‘ghost companies’ which it claims embezzled millions of dollars from the state coffers.

The Opposition in a statement issued yesterday, Wednesday 18th May, said it is aware of serious allegations of ghost companies established by middle-people and they charge the state twice the cost of goods and services delivered to government ministries and institutions.

It said when government tenders are put out for the supply of goods and services to government ministries and institutions, the middle-people through the ghost companies also put in their bids and when they turn out successful, they sub-contract them to genuine companies which results in inflated costs to the state.

The Opposition said this middle-people scheme has been practiced for years and must be addressed.

Prime Minister Sogavare said, “As the head of a government that is determined to address corruption head-on, I wish register my sincere acknowledgement to the Parliamentary Opposition Group for its call for the government to investigate its claim that ghost companies have embezzled millions from the state coffers for a long time now.”

The Prime Minister said he will see to it that relevant government authourities ensure a level playing field for companies bidding for the supply of goods and services to government ministries and institutions.

He urged the Parliamentary Opposition to provide supporting evidences supporting its claim to either the Leadership Code Commission or Police for investigation as it implies that some government officials are part and parcel of this corrupt scheme.

The Prime Minister said the LCC deals with official misconduct cases involving politicians and government officials whilst the police deal with crimes including corruption at all levels of the society but because both bodies are government institutions, there seems to be some distrust by the public in their integrity to carry out these responsibilities.

He said this negative public perception about the integrity of these two important government institutions should be erased by the fact that they are now headed by people with integrity who are committed to ensuring these institutions live up to their mandated responsibilities.

The Prime Minister added that until the anti-corruption bill that was delayed in Parliament for the Second Reading process is passed and enacted, all official misconduct and corruption allegations if reported will have to be dealt with by these two institutions.

He said the proposed anti-corruption legislation will ensure the establishment of an Independent Commission Against corruption with a national reach in dealing with corruption and therefore all Parliamentarians should form a united front in ensuring the passage of the bill in a bid to weed out corruption at all levels in the society.