Posted by: nativeiowan | July 17, 2009

press release 17/7/09

On behalf of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry I wish to congratulate Prime Minister Sikua and his Cabinet for their hard work and professionalism involved with this current sitting of parliament. It has been a busy and productive sitting. And will continue for a few more weeks. This, of course, is the visible work ethic that bolsters confidence in Government.

Amidst it all, the discussion-taking place involving the increase in the number of Parliamentary Seats is one issue the SICCI must question:

Question 1.       Is there a real need for “More Government” in the Solomons or, perhaps, are we already over burdened by Government?

Question 2.       As we have experienced this year: The income/revenue as collected by SIG is insufficient to fund current Government activities, and this trend will not change until we get more businesses paying more income to the Government, so, can we afford a Bigger Government, even if we actually need a Bigger Government?

Question 3.       By even raising the discussion of “More, Bigger Government” are we undermining the good relations the Sikua Government has developed with the Private Sector?

Question 4.       The SIG budget is strongly supported by Aid Partners who work in areas of transport, infrastructure, education, health, water, etc… By talking of increasing the cost of Government what message are we sending to our partners?

Question 5.       Is this the best decision for us at this time?

 

Consider: In a nation that sees less than 20% of it’s population involved in the Formal Cash Economy, and which sees over one-quarter of the population aged below 15 yrs, one may assume that the overall increase to the cost of Government would be better spent on Educational and Training?

If we acknowledge that the private sector oriented “Income Base” of the Government is a) shrinking, b) poorly regulated and administered, c) outspokenly fearful of issues like security, and stability: One may consider, when viewing the facts here, that the Solomons cannot afford more Government, more Parliamentarians, before they solve some basic and urgent issues.

If indeed populations have changed/ moved and constituencies need to be rearranged, then change the boundaries, realign and balance as is required.

But, seriously folks, does it make sense, at this time, to increase the number of Parliamentarians? Increase the amount of Government thus directly increasing the Cost of Government?

One positive suggestion I can offer: Lets look at increasing the opportunities in the Nation that allow prosperity and wealth development. I speak of prosperity and wealth development on all levels… the rural, the urban and the in-between levels:

�   Perhaps if we target a 5-year program of spending money on education and training, targeting tangible improvements that do more than simply maintain the status quo?

�   Perhaps if we make the infrastructure we have work and improve/ develop infrastructure where needed, we will see more business, more jobs and more income for the Government?

�   Perhaps if we make the SOE’s work and work well we will see a reversal in the trend of SIG spending money to make institutions work and actually see these institutions becoming a value-added component to our economy?

�   Perhaps we make a priority list of what we need to do before we Increase Government?

Seriously, before we increase the number of Seats in Parliament lets target a required level of Private Sector Growth that will sustain/ finance and make such increase not only required but possible.

In ending, I think our priorities are not straight. The SICCI is standing by to assist the SIG in developing a holistic list of priorities for the next 5 years; a list that logically combines both political and private agendas, for the betterment of all involved.

Last thought… I’ll bet that one item that we’ll not see on the priority list will be the payment of monies to the Wives of Members to Parliament.

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