As predicted, the South Pacific festival or Arts was well done and a credit to all… well almost…
Now the fights and disputes over $$ begins… and it all starts at the top…
Sogavare slams $5m advance
Member of Parliament for East Choiseul has condemned the latest decision by the NCRA Cabinet to advance $5-Million of the Republic of China-funded Millennium Development Fund to pay $100,000.00 to each parliamentarian to assist those who have come to Honiara for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts and the 34th Independence anniversary celebration.
“This is a blatant misuse of funds approved by Parliament for specific development purposes and therefore a blatant abuse of cabinet processes to satisfy the narrow political interests of politicians.
“Such a callous and transparent abuse of processes is nothing short of broad daylight corruption at the highest level, camouflaged as assistance to the people,” Hon. Manasseh Sogavare said.
The Opposition MP said it needs to be pointed out that the agreed procedures to access the Millennium Development Fund and what area of the millennium development goal to fund is through the application form prepared by the constituencies based on constituency development plans not on political decisions of the cabinet.
He said it needs also to be emphasized that the cost of bringing Solomon Islands rural contingent to the arts festival and to look after them in Honiara and the satellite venues is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism through the appointed chairman of the Solomon Islands contingent and not MPs.
“It must also follow that the funds for that purpose must come from new drawings from the consolidated fund, not advances from funds approved by Parliament for specific development purposes.
“Any other people who come to Honiara from the villages for the festival and to attend the independence celebration do so at their own expenses and it would be clear pretentious for the Government to even think that MPs will look after them with the $100,000.00.”
The MP for East Choiseul meanwhile urged the Government to prioritise the implementation of the policy announcement by the Prime Minister at the last sitting of Parliament to properly organize the 50 constituencies by way of a legal framework to manage public funds channeled through MPs which disturbingly now exceeds the $5-Million mark.
“The Government has a duty to ensure that the increased funding to constituencies is properly guided to achieve the objectives of rural development which is to improve self-reliance through the active participation of our people in rural-based development instead of creating dependency attitude amongst our people,” he said.
The Opposition MP said the good intention to focus the attention of the national budget to be more responsive to the different development needs of the constituencies is now seriously threatened by potential misuse of funds due to the total absence of an accountability framework.
He said an accountability mechanism should meet the minimum requirement of an audit process at the national level and the lack of any form of long term development plan in many constituencies to guide the use of the funds