THE Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) has lashed out at Malaita province Premier Peter Ramohia following his front-page story over the weekend.
A statement from MPGIS described the premier’s comments on social media which appeared in the Solomon Star paper last Sunday as ‘irresponsible’.
The front-page article in the Sunday Star on April 1, carried Mr Ramohia’s statement in social media complaining about a reduction of $40 million in the Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF) as a huge unjustified cut.
However, MPGIS clarified that it has already informed all provinces about the budget cut through a circular from the MPGIS Permanent Secretary to the premiers and their respective PSs.
On top of that, MPGIS said Ramohia and other provincial premiers had had an audience with the Prime Minister a fortnight ago and raised with the Prime Minister issues affecting the provincial governments.
The discussions also included the reduction on PCDF funding.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister took the responsibility to clarify on behalf of the Government the reasons for the Budget cuts in all ministries.
The Prime Minister also gave the opportunity to all premiers to share their views.
“It is unfortunate that the Premier has chosen social media to raise an issue which he is fully aware of the reasons for these reductions. He was given the opportunity to raise these issues amicably during an audience with the Prime Minister and the issue was clarified,” the MPGIS statement said.
MPGIS said Premier Ramohia could have written to the ministry instead of taking to social media if he needed further clarification.
“There are procedures and channels of communication in place if the Premier have issues to raise and not on social media or Facebook,” it said.
Meanwhile, the MPGIS statement clarified that the reduction of the PCDF is a budgetary issue and that it must be noted that most ministries have also had their budgets significantly reduced.
“The reduction to $10million in this year’s budget from last years $50million is based on the performance of PCDF in 2017 by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury in which only $20million was paid out. However, it must be noted that the Government is committed to paying the remaining $30million outstanding from 2017 to the Provincial Government this year,” the statement said.
“So for 2018, the provincial governments will be receiving the $10million in this year’s budget plus the outstanding $30m from last year’s PCDF which will total up to $40 Million. Isn’t $40M not enough for implementation of its programmes this year?” it said.
The MPGIS statement further clarified that the Fixed Service Grant in the Development Budget has not been reduced and remains the same as last year.
In addition to the PCDF, the statement said, the MPGIS also provided to the Malaita Provincial Government a “Financial Management Strategy” that provides as a guideline for Malaita to follow.
“This is a way for Malaita to get out of its debt issue. There are quite a number of issues that the Premier should focus on. These include setting up strategies to avoid unnecessary loans from unlicensed lenders, retirement of imprests, report on ward development grants, financial management discipline by executive, outstanding audit issues, and more importantly, to strengthen the revenue collection mechanisms within the province.
“This is a time not to be too dependent on the National Government. The 2018 Budget cuts provides an opportunity for Provinces to find other alternative means to raise money. The Premier and his executive should be realistic and not to treat the PCDF as the only means of survival. The MPGIS and SIG are always supportive in the reform programs that the MPGIS is undertaking, hence the Premier should understand what is going on.”