By Gary Hatigeva
MINISTER for the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Jeremiah Manele has revealed that there are so many reasons why the government should trim or cut off allocations under the Development Budget to line ministries for their implementation programmes.
It is understood that a 52 percent cut was imposed on all line ministries for allocations into their development programmes and projects in the Development Budget under the Appropriation Bill 2018, which is yet to be tabled.
Mr Manele says this is based on the ministry’s findings of the development budget implementation reports as well as the first performance report of the current NDS 2016-2035, there is huge challenge in line ministries’ capacity to implement effective programmes as targeted and this according to Manele, has been so for many years.
The MDPAC Minister explained that ministries continue to face similar challenges such as internal capacity, coordination, and management of project and programme activities, which he added that in many respects, these reports provide the platform and benchmarks for determination of the 2018 development budget.
Speaking on the floor of parliament yesterday, Manele revealed that there is a notable deviation of project funds to other unplanned activities and for some ministries, ongoing delays in the budgeting process, and capacity constraints within MoFT procurement has made accessing funds to implement activities as per project very difficult.
He then pointed out that capacity within individual ministries stands out as one of the primary reasons implementation on the ground is poor.
Parliament was also told that out of 91 programmes implemented in 2017, none has reached its targets. Many ministries blamed the poor cash flow situation in the third and last quarter of 2017 noting that this impeded the implementation of their 2017 Development Budget projects and programmes.
“However, given that the expenditure of 2017 was 91 percent, it has been reduced that many ministry programmes were not implemented for the reason they spent the allocation on unplanned activities and not on their approved work plans.
“And since the first Development Budget Implementation Report, it is clear that many programmes and projects with little or no researched validation continue to hinder progress towards achieving results planned under the development budget and the Medium Term Development Plan (MTDP).
“As a result, many development programmes continue to exist in the MTDP with no visible progress towards achievement of stated outcomes,” the MDPAC Minister added.
He further added that with the current design process and lack of data, they also contribute to the long-term negative challenges to the ministries, which includes issues such as land, Solomon Islands Government procurement process, and political interference, are taking more time for the ministries to deal with, than originally planned.
“Almost half of the ongoing projects continue to use SIG development budget with no clear evidence of achievement and progress towards target indicators.
“A number of planned activities under the programmes are beyond the capacity of the implementing line ministries per programme to implement and as a result, more than 90 percent planned activities are not implemented, and this continues to be repeated annually, since 2015,” Manele continued to reveal.
He however stressed that as for this government, ministries need to conduct evidence-based research or programme assessment and studies to support any concept/project plan before actual design and submission to MDPAC for approval and implementation.
He said this is because ministries’ implementation have not been effective and remain unsatisfactory in regards to the implementation rate as per project/programme logical frameworks.
He added there is also a number of programmes that continue to be implemented outside of their annual work plans, which make it difficult to measure performance and track progress.
He further stressed that it is unrealistic to continue funding a programme that provides no progress report and therefore, emphasised that in order for any programmes to continue receiving funds, ministries must demonstrate how they use their previous year funding to justify their request and value for money.
“Otherwise, any programmes and projects which have not produced any progress reports on their implementation, will see that their funding level be reduced or deferred.”
Meanwhile, the MDPAC Minister and MP for Hograno/Kia-Havulei suggested that the trend of unfinished businesses will continue and government money will continue to be wasted if no strategic action is taken to address the issue.
“Because with the current financial situation in 2017-18, it is estimated that this will provide much mixed results to the performance of a number of projects/programmes in 2018 and 2019.
“This means line ministries will need to prioritise, readjust and downscale on their programmes and projects.
“It is critically important, given the challenging financial situation, that ministries prioritise only the highest priority programmes now, and at the same time, continue to review activities to match the level of budget and target outputs to be delivered in 2018,” Manele explained.