By EDDIE OSIFELO
SPEAKER of Parliament, Patterson Oti calls on civil society organizations to work together to create a better Solomon Islands.
Speaking at the launching of the Citizen Budget Guide 2020/21 at Honiara Hotel on Monday night, Oti said let’s work to further develop and deepen democracy in the country for the benefit of all.
The umbrella body of Non-Government Organizations in the country, Development Service Exchange with assistance from European Union, United Nations Development Programe and Pacific Islands Association of NGO’s (PIANGO) helped put together the Guide.
Oti said whilst the Citizen Budget Guide is a first for the Solomon Islands, this underscores the importance of sharing information and the need for citizens to exercise their right to information.
Other Pacific neighbors like Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga had also previously launched their Citizen Budget Guide many years ago.
“It is my utmost belief that initiative such as the Guide will deepen the quality of our democracy and in addition, bring Government and Parliament closer to the door steps of our people.
“In the bigger scheme of things, whilst the occasion we are celebrating tonight is a first for our country, to me the Citizen Budget Guide is an indication of our collective commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Oti said it is in line with SDG Goal 16 that they celebrate tonight’s milestone.
He said that is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
The Guide is a tool that will guide DSE and its Member Organizations to assist and enable communities to fully participate in the national budget preparation process, advocate and monitor implementation.
DSE said you are taxpayers, your money is used to maintain social institutions, housing and communal services are being developed, roads are being built and overhauled, and many other expenses are made.
“You deduct money into the budget and have the right to know – whether it is spent effectively, for what purposes are directed to financing.
“You get a real opportunity to participate in the budget process, not in words but deeds. After all, the more people understand the budget process and are involved in the budget process, the better the result will be,” DSE said in a statement.