By Gary Hatigeva
MINISTRIES that have not shown any progress or provide evidence of progresses in the implementations of their programs and projects are given a reduced or deferred status.
Officials from the Ministry of Development Planning, and Aid Coordination highlighted in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing that is currently underway, over the 2019 Appropriation Bill.
Prior to the start of PAC hearing on Monday, Island Sun was able to interview top officials of a number of government line ministries, most of whom raised concerns and complaints over what they have described as, insufficient allocations for their development programs.
Some of the ministries shared that the trend in low allocation has affected a lot of their programs, and also stretching completion timeframes that have been projected, including their priority schedules of projects.
Others were also complaining that proposals submitted for new programs and projects were also turned down.
But when speaking at the PAC hearing yesterday, Chief Planning Officer (CPO) of MDPAC, Alice Kale revealed that MDPAC uses a number of guidelines and rules to establish the final estimates, which are then endorsed and approved.
In her presentation, which also enlightened matters of concerns raised, Kale outlined to the committee some of the guidelines and rules that they have been deliberated on, in terms of the proposals, and clarified that no new program should be in the budget unless it is a Solomon Islands Government (SIG) obligation, provided that there is justification also submitted with those bids.
She explained that for programs and projects that are co-funded, the government also has an obligation to make its contributions especially those prioritised by development partners.
“We also have the guidelines on projects and programs that have not produced any progress report on their implementation, where we do have their funding level reduced or remain with the 2018 allocation or deferred.
“It is unrealistic to continue funding programs that provide no progress reports to MDPAC.
“Also programs and projects that are key investment of the government that are being effectively implemented are also considered.
“And we also consider programs and projects that are recurrent in nature, which have been in the development budget for a number of years, transferred or are shifted to the recurrent so we are not expecting them to appear in the forth coming years again,” the CPO explained.
The PO then told PAC that MDPAC through the Development Budget supports revenue income programs to relevant sectors.
“In terms of revenue income programs, they are also supported under the Development Budget, so we have the economic productive sector programs, including infrastructure, and the environment and disaster sectors programs, supported at an increased level for 2019.
She further added that the Public Ordinance Safety sector programs, which including Rural Development, Public Service, Provincial Government sectors programs are also supported, but at a reduced level, while health and education sectors are supported at an increased level compared to the 2018 allocation.
She however reminded that it is also important ministries must be able to demonstrate and justify that they have the technical capacity, manpower and time to complete those projects.
“And even if ministries used up funds before the end of the year, proper implementation reports are required of them, and they should submit these to MDPAC, so that we can continue to see where the progresses are, and the government can fund those critical projects and programs that are progressing effectively and efficiently,” she added.
Meanwhile, the CPO further clarified that programs and projects that have existing contracts with outstanding payments and payments due in 2019, the government will ensure they are adequately funded to enable drastic reduction on the outstanding payments as the government aspired to transition into a new government in 2019 with a clean budget.
A total of $545,300,000 has been allocated under the Development Budget Estimates, and around a quarter of it was approved for the Ministry of Rural Development, with an allocation estimate of $120million.