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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Acquittal refute

In any situation where foreign aid is disbursed there is normally a reporting system in place and criteria for receiving funds. There is also a system for releasing funding on the part of the donor where one tranche is released after the previous one has been acquitted for.
Four members of parliament have fail to acquitted their 2011 republic of China, Taiwan constituency development funds and amongst them is the Opposition leader Dr. Derek Sikua. Dr.Sikua has refuted the claim by the Prime Minister`s office and ministry of rural development that he has not submitted the acquittals for the republic of China-funded rural development funds for his constituency for 2011.
In his defense and in response to the allegations against him, Dr. Derek Sikua mentioned that he received the first and third tranches but the second tranche came in late and thus, the late acquittal.
The system was initially set up to disburse funds from the responsible ministry to the honorable members of parliament and their constituencies. This implies that in this case, the ministry of rural development is responsible for the proper and timely distribution of funds and therefore if for any reason the funds are dispersed late, ample time should be accorded for acquittals and reporting. If normal procedures had been followed, the third tranche of funding for Dr. Sikua’s constituency would not have been disbursed before receipt and acquittals of the second tranche.
To be really clear on the issues, the question of why the second tranche was released after the third tranche and the question of who approved disbursal of the third tranche before the second one and why they did this needs to be answered.

The office of the prime minister and the ministry of development has given the MPs seven days to produce their acquittals before the auditors are sent to their constituencies to establish how the fund were spent.
For the government to mandate Dr.Sikua to produce the report and acquittal within seven days is not proper as the stage of distribution of funds for this constituency is not known and if half or more of the funding is yet to be dispersed, such a mandate will trigger falsified acquittals just to answer to the donor.
Another question that needs to be asked is why aid funding is channeled into the community through the honorable member of a constituency rather than through the ministry responsible itself and through its provincial networks. Distribution of aid funding through the honorable member responsible for a constituency is in itself a venue that encourages corruption. One of Dr. Sikua’s points in his defense was that one contributing factor to the delay in receipt disbursal and acquittal of the Micro projects development and millennium goals was the fact that he was “engaged with is election petition case which started in March 2011. The chairpersons of his polling stations also had to approve the constituency’s 2011 budget in July last year before the funds could be received. Clearly, the interference of political activities, obligations and protocols has hindered the process of disbursal of funds and acquittals for his constituency, which emphasizes the idea that there needs to be a more transparent system of distributing aid funding  that involves minimum or no political interference.
The statement released by the Ministry of Rural development saying that other provinces have already acquitted and these have already been delivered to the Embassy of the Republic of China is questionable as the reporting would need to be compiled as a tranche report and acquittal by the Ministry itself and then presented to the embassy and this cannot be submitted unless all constituencies have given in their acquittals which again raises the question of whether or not there is a transparent system in place for the distribution of funding and whether this issue is being used against Dr. Sikua as a political retaliation.
Perhaps the more important question to ask is, “Is the current system being used as a political campaign tool to subsidize the constituency allocations (which are not always sufficient for rural development once all political favors have been paid for) and is the government turning a blind eye on the issue of transparency of the distribution system to cater for other discrepancies?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Question over trip to China

The opposition in any government is tasked with the job of ridiculing and critiquing the actions of the government in power. The article that was published in the Solomon Star that describes the Chinese businessman, John Abba as a “washing machine for money” has been ironically published at a time when the businessman is on an “investment seeking trip to China”. Had this article been published earlier, there would have been more scrutiny by the public and the government. Furthermore, if it had been published on his return from China, there would have been a better chance at getting his side of the story.

A better approach for this article is to investigate all the parties mentioned in the article, get their opinions on the matter and then publish and let the public decide. In saying so, the land owners, John Abba and other Chinese businessmen and the government personnel who had dealings with the Chinese Businessman who was implicated should all have been approached and given the opportunity to comment on the issue.

Another approach is to gather and collate data from the department of taxes and Inland Revenue on the amount of duties paid on goods that have been imported from China. Even though this information would have to be release with a warrant or other legal documentation, it would be a good idea for the opposition leader to have this kind of documentation when making the accusation so that should this backfire, there are grounds for justification.

Furthermore, the idea that the honorable minister Tovosia took the prime ministers private body guard with him is questionable; why didn’t he take his own private body guard? Which protocols were implemented? Was the private body guard a personal favour from the prime minister? If so is the honorable minister Tovosia a front for an even bigger dealing between China and the Solomon Islands? This would imply that the honorable minister Tovosia and John Abba are scapegoats prompting an even more important question; at what price did they agree on becoming the face of these dealings (taking into consideration that a lot of people’s reputations would be at stake and not to mention the Solomon Islands foreign business investment sector?

The Solomon Islands currently has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. What is the price of sealing diplomatic relations with China? One issue that is questionable is the idea that even though the Solomon Islands has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the majority of business investors in the Solomon Islands are Chinese.

Dr. Derek Sikua has an unprecedented right to voice his concerns (as does every other   citizen) but in my opinion, what would be more effective is a full scale investigation into the matter and then a full publication as this would leave readers with little or no doubt over the alleged misappropriations in government.

Since China currently has no relations with Solomon Islands, the question that is left to ask is why is the businessman John Abba part of the government delegation to China? Isn’t there a more appropriate Chinese personnel living in the Solomon Islands who could accompany the government delegation to China?

Monday, May 21, 2012

war over words

Indeed citizens of the Solomon Islands continue to marvel at the way the politics of their country had been unfolding. This has been proven from wrangling of words between the then Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and the opposition leader Dr Derrick Sikua over cost cutting measures. 

In responds to the Prime Minister, opposition leader Dr Derick Sikua on the issue of cost cutting measures revealed that the move made by the Prime Minister is “a cunning desperate move to restore public trust and confidence in him after lying to the nation about the actual cost of his hotel bill.”
The issue arises after the prime minister housed in a hotel. The rental amount claimed by the Prime Minister was $15,000.
Prime Minister Lilo had been staying in the hotel since he was a minister of the crown and counting from when he became the Prime Minister in November last year up to now is approximately five months.
The opposition leader revealed that,
 Prime Minister Lilo denial of hard evidences showing that the State is actually paying the hotel bill $ 217,500.00 per month and not $ 15,000.00. It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister still maintained that his monthly hotel rental is $15,000.00 when copies of the rental bills and payments for the bills obtained from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury do not support his claim.
According to Prime Minister`s office “ it said it had no idea of the payment Dr Sikua referred to except for a voucher for MPs that resided in the hotel leading up to the election of the Prime Minister which the office of the Attorney general is working on.”
While the two national leaders continued their counter attacks in the media, the public response seems negative. People`s trust started to vanished, losing hope and trust in their national leaders.
The question I would like to pose is why this two keep pointing fingers to each other. They should focus in the interest of the nation rather digging out their wrong deeds. This fraction of argument is confusing. At this stage, who is right and wrong is still vague? I think they should refrain from their political mudslinging and settle their differences in a different channel rather using the media to confuse the public.

Why is it now becoming a habit for Solomon Islands politics that whenever a government comes into power, it always has the opposition side trying to topple the government side? We should understand that opposition is there just to check on the government and give support. Seriously, our politics has become a game of power and money. Politicians are there just to criticize each other rather

At this stage the country needs good governance in order to gain stability within the government. It is a trend that is weakening our resolve to govern ourselves effectively and it will be our weakness in the face of increasing and mounting pressure, from our own personal demands and expectations upon our MPs in the near future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Need strings of protocols attached

The freedom of movement and rights of individual within the government of the Solomon Islands is flexible.
The shifting from one party to another has believed to be the cause of corruption. For instance, bribing Members of parliament to shift from one party to another. This practiced has been a void in the ruling process. 
In 2009, a political bill has planned to be tabled to stop corruption problem. The bill aims to stop Members of parliament crossing floor to the opposition from the government or vice versa.
Before the election in August 2010, a source said some of the parties are not well organized but just formed to compete in the election.
The question boils down, be it number politics, crossing floor or money politics. It has been proven that most of the politicians did not know their where about in the government or their role. Their entire term is spent on moving to and fro. This has caused many disturbances and problematic in the ruling process.
In 2011 around August a task force was carried out to gaze into the political integrity and stability bill. It was aimed “to gauge the views of the people of Solomon Islands on political integrity issues and their expectation from the conduct of their leaders.”  
based on the outcomes of the national survey and consultation with the what the political integrity issues that need to be addressed, options to address these issues and the implication of the options on the law and the constitution of Solomon Islands.
And also to, "articulate options available to Solomon Islands based on the experience of other democratic countries in the Pacific and beyond, that could take to discourage or disincentives MPs from crossing the floor because of reward induced incentives."

However, to-date the political integrity bill is vanished by changed of government. this clearly indicate that some members of parliament did not support the bill due to their personal interest will be monitored.

At this stage, there needs to be protocols in place to control movement of Members of parliament shifting from one party to another. This will totally helpful in monitoring and checks and balances and create stability within the ruling process. As this will also stop corruption practices especially members of parliament who crosses the floor for induced- incentives.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Solomon Islands 'Musical Chair' Politics

The Political instability in the Solomon Islands government is owed largely to the infusion of musical chairs in the ruling process.
Frequently, the governments that have been formed have always accommodated the included crossing floor either to the government side from the opposition or vice versa. 
The crossing over and sacking of members of parliament is a crucial problem of instability within the government.
As usual in the Solomon Islands at the end of the day it is politics. The new era of money politics seems eminent in betting for power and personal interest.
It was understood that the continual instability is also the cause of the fragile nature of the Melanesian culture. 
Within the Solomon Islands government(s) and its politics, favoritism and nepotism is widely practiced. In the event that several people are in the process of vying for a single post the question boils down to who you know and not what you are capable of doing. 
It has become the norm that within any ruling government, all proper financial proceedings can be overridden by political will whether it is in the interest of national good or not.
This includes public funds, foreign aid from major aid donors as well as smaller contributors and the income from foreign investment.
Likewise in 2011, was intense for SI. Marred by political instability where citizens upset over leadership neglect of relevant issues, was related to the on-going and never ending musical chair politics of national parliaments. 
A top secret intelligence report has pointed a finger at Australia as being the architect of the on-going opposition move to topple Danny Philips government promising a $200, 000 reward each to any government MP who crosses the floor.
 A concern citizen, said,
the nation has watch Members of parliament( including James Tora, Stanely Sofu, Mark Kemakeza and Martin Sopage) repeatedly crossing the floor or grass-shopping.

The moving to and fro is based entirely on personal interests and reward-induced incentives.
This has been proven to be major reasons for members of parliament crossing the floor either to the government side from the opposition or vice versa.
This on-going trend undermined the country`s progress.
Meanwhile this practice creates a void in the working force and the politics of SI that is recurrent and contributes greatly to the crossing floor within the ruling process.