By Gary Hatigeva
THE progress of the re-introduced Anti-Corruption Bill (ACB) in Parliament last year remains a top priority for the Solomon Islands Democratic for Change Government (SIDCCG), which is keen on having it passed as a law.
Government’s objectives include reviewing and strengthening anti-corruption legislations and related subsidiary legislations based on national consensus regarding the laws and mechanisms that must be established and implemented at national and provincial levels of combating corruption.
SIDCCG is hoping the ACB is tabled and passed along with other related subsidiaries including the Whistle blowers Protection Bill, the Right to Information Bill, the Leadership Commission (Amendment) Bill and the Political Party Integrity (Amendment) Bill.
Once the ACB becomes law, a new anti-corruption commission will have authority and jurisdiction to investigate and refer for prosecution all corruption cases that arise from the moment of the Bill’s adoption into law.
Government officials explained that the Bill, when enacted, will amend corruption offenses in the Penal Code, which will also be consistent with elements of corruption offences.
They said all corruption cases occurring prior to the law will be investigated by existing law enforcement bodies already engaged in the important work of fighting corruption.
Officials added that the government wants leverage from development partners to deliver on its National Anti-Corruption Strategy and a few including UN programme have been requested to cost-share with Government on this anti-corruption project as well as to further mobilise resources from other development partners.
It is understood that last year, the government signed an agreement with the UNDP to give effect to some of the anti-corruption activities in the country’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy
As part of these efforts, the government has adopted a national anti-corruption strategy at the highest level, following extensive stakeholder consultations.
They include a stand-alone budget for the Ombudsman’s Office to ensure its financial independence and the mandatory nature of the Leadership Code and accountability and oversight provided by the Leadership Code Commission.
Officials further added that the government has also noted the need to review and take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources especially, the much talked about Constituency Development Funds.
The government in its Policy Statement, revealed that $3 million was projected under its fiscal budget to enable the implementation programme on the policy, which also hopes to see that corruption in all levels is prevented or reduced.
The government is also hoping that by passing the ACB and its subsidiaries will create efficient coordination and expedient service delivery, while at the same time looks to protect the integrity of leaders.
They are also hoping that with the Anti-Corruption becoming law, it will drive leaders to ensure decisions are made collectively and also ensures Political stability.
Meanwhile, officials highlighted by getting the anti-corruption in will restore public confidence, and by gaining their confidence a healthy economy is attained.