Allowances halved

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All SIG-sponsored students’ stipends reduced by 50 percent in 2018

By Alfred Sasako

HUNDREDS of Government-sponsored students studying overseas will be the first victims of savage budget cuts being announced this week.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Manasseh Sogavare is expected to hand down the 2018 National Budget when Parliament resumes later this morning after a week-long adjournment.

“Cuts of as much as fifty percent across the board in student allowances form large cuts being meted out to other government sectors,” sources told Island Sun over the weekend.

Students studying at AMA University in the Philippines will be the first to feel the pinch from the government’s razor gang. A 50 percent cut in their allowances will start next week, sources told Island Sun.

The number of students studying at AMA this year is not known.

Media reports said the Government spent $130 million to cover the scholarships of the 512 students studying at AMA last year.

Government-sponsored students studying in other tertiary institutions such as the Laucala Campus at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji, the Emalus Campus Law School in Vanuatu and similar institutions in the region will suffer the same fate.

Details of their cuts are being worked out, the sources said.

But it does not stop there, according to sources.

Government-sponsored students at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) as well as those studying at USP’s Solomon Islands Campus would also have their allowances slashed by half.

Up to 100 public servants undertaking in-service training locally would also be affected. They have been told that they may have to wait until June before they could collect their allowances.

Some say the Government has withdrawn a number of entitlements including rentals after they had signed their contracts with the government.

Students studying at SINU and USP Honiara Campuses are expected to meet later this week to consider the implications of the budget cuts on their studies.

The cuts are not confined to students’ welfare.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is facing a $33 million cut in its allocation this year. Permanent Secretary Tenneth Dalipada told the Public Accounts Committee last week the decrease in its development budget allocation would “exert considerable pressure on service delivery,” according to a report carried by the Solomon Islands’ Broadcasting Corporation last week.

Provincial governments have also cried foul after being told their provincial grants in the 2018 are being halved.

The cuts have forced the Western Provincial Government to threaten breakaway from the rest of the country.

Premier Wayne Maepioh told Island Sun last week his government and his people have reached “a point of no return” in the process of seeking a solution to manage their own affairs.

“You can’t keep cutting our grants and at the same time expect us to delivery services to the people,” Premier Maepio told Island Sun at the weekend.

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