By Mike Puia
THE Malaita Ma’asina Forum (MMF) has called on all current members of Parliament (MP) from Malaita province to prepare and show to Malaitans their audited reports on how they used the Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) under their discretion.
The Forum made this call in light of growing concern over transparency and accountability around these public funds.
The Forum’s newly-elected president, Martin Housanau, said the people of Malaita province want to see audited reports on how these CDFs were being used over the past years.
Housanau said for too long the people of Malaita have been denied their right to information into these funds.
CDFs are, in principle, intended to better link MPs with their constituents and provide a rapid response mechanism for delivering small-scale services to local communities.
These funds are growing each year as proportion of the budget outlays and in absolute dollar amount allocated to MPs.
These funds make up a large part of the country’s budget, supplemented by grants from Taiwan.
People’s knowledge about how these funds are managed by MPs and their staff on a day-to-day basis, how effective and sustainable CDF expenditures are and the impact of these CDFs on voter behaviour and attitudes of MPs themselves are some of the issues around the fund that makes it controversial.
“The people of Malaita province have all the right to know how their MPs used these funds,” Housanau said.
The Forum directed this call to the 14 Malaitan MPs and the three Honiara MPs.
The Honiara MPs were included as most Malaitans live in these constituencies.
The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission is currently working on the voter list to be used in the National General Election early next year.
Housanau said Malaita MPs should have their audited CDF reports ready before they go out to their constituencies to do their campaign.
He said MPs who failed to have their records audited violated the Constituency Development Funds Act 2013 which requires the use of public funds be audited by the Auditor General under the provisions of the Public Finance and Audit Act.
The CDF Act, which is shorter and not detailed, is the first and only legislation specifically covering CDFs.
Housanau said having the CDFs audited is a law therefore all MPs must comply.
He said the Forum will explore legal avenues to ensure MPs in the province who failed to have their records audited are held accountable to their people.
Housanau said MPs handling of public money has already contravened the national constitution which clearly stipulated that MPs are only legislators.