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Solomon Islands cabinet, caucus spent $4M a year on lavish lunches

Solomon Islands Government has been spending $4 million (US$500,586) a year to lavishly feed members of Cabinet and Caucus during their weekly meetings.

That’s $37,000 a week (US$4,631)!

Cabinet is normally attended by government ministers, while Caucus meetings are usually attended by government backbenchers and political party executives.

Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) Mathew Wale urged Prime Minister Rick Hou to put a stop to this extravagance.

“This is shameful,” Wale told parliament.

“This $4 million could buy important healthy equipment desperately needed for our ambulances and hospitals,” he added.

“Yet it is spent on unhealthy food that contributes to the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“We want a healthy government but we spent $4 million to make you sick and when you admitted at our hospital there are no proper medical facilities to treat you.”

Wale told Prime Minister Hou to put a stop to this wastage of taxpayers’ money and divert the funds to the health sector.

He said when he was in Cabinet during the then Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua’s reign, they use to contribute and bought biscuits and what other food during their meetings.

“We did not expect the taxpayers to feed us whilst attending meetings that we were paid to attend as part of the role we were elected to perform.

“This practice is another backward step on a downward slippery slope.

“How can we not feel guilty about the lack of equipment in our hospitals when such a large amount of money is being wasted on unhealthy foods.

“In fact all of government need to become more sensitive to wastage of taxpayers’ money on entertainment and such other indulgences that can be foregone.

“This is to enable us to meet the urgent and desperate needs in our healthcare system,” Wale said.

In its report on the 2018 Supplementary Appropriation Bill, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it is very concern with the weekly bill of $37,000 to feed those attending Cabinet, Caucus and other gatherings of dignitaries.

The report stated that this has become an unnecessary burden on government finances in recent years.

“It is also contributing to the unhealthy diets and the wastage of government resources,” the report stated.

Officials of the Prime Minister and Cabinet who appeared before the PAC meeting last week confirmed that this is a concern for them and they will discuss with the relevant officials to resolve the issues.


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