A total of Vt2.4 million was spent on jewelries to decorate Members of Parliament (MPs) and their spouses, Directors General (DGs) and Directors during the 40th Independence anniversary celebration.

The Vt2.4 million cost of jewelries bought from a jewelry shop in Port Vila was revealed in last Friday’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting at the parliament.

National Coordinator for the Yumi 40 Independence Anniversary, Fred Samuel, briefed the PAC members on the overall outcome of the 40th Independence Anniversary celebrations, in the presence of the Auditor General.

Comprising several MPs from both the Opposition and Government side, PAC is scrutinizing how public funds for the Yumi 40 independence celebration in Port Vila were used.

A Vt100 million budget for the nationwide celebration was approved by the parliament in 2019.

Leader of the Opposition, Ralph Regenvanu, who was present during the meeting as an observer said the National Coordinator of the 40th Independence Anniversary has revealed that getting the jewelries was an instruction from the minister responsible for the independence celebrations.

Daily Post could not get the minister responsible to comment prior to print.

However, the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Cherol Ala, said the jewelries were purchased from funds available while the rest were given by the jewelry shop as giftg for the 40th independence anniversary.

Excessive and unnecessary expenditure of the government funds is an ongoing concern raised by the Opposition bloc.

PAC’s meeting with officials concerning the Yumi 40 funds continues today.

Meanwhile, apart from the independence funds, the Council of Ministers (COM) had also approved for an amount of Vt400 million be allocated from the Infrastructure Development Fund be used for the renovation of a number of roads in Port Vila and Luganville ahead of the big celebration and the PIF Leaders Meeting which has been postponed.

The Daily Post understands works are yet to be undertaken in some of these roads. The majority of these roads are in Port Vila.

Those that require formation and sealing include Blacksands, Elluk, Malapoa roads, Blandinere core roads, Vila North/Esqal and Ohlen Mataso road. Works are being undertaken on the Manples to Blacksand road.

Other road sections require drainage improve works and asphalts overlay.

The new road at Colardeau to Independence Park is also included in the Vt400 million fund.