By Mike Puia
THE Ombudsman Office is looking to recruit more staff to roll out its new Ombudsman Act 2017.
The Act, which was passed in Parliament in July 2017, has come to effect on January 31 this year.
The Ombudsman, Fred Fakari’i, confirmed his office currently has about 24 staff and this year it looks to recruit about 16 more.
The increase in staffing is necessary as now the Office will also register verbal (in person or through telephone) complaints.
These are complaints from members of the public who think they are being unfairly treated by any government agency, ministry, department or contractor – maladministrative conducts.
Under the old Ombudsman Act, the Ombudsman office only registered written complaints.
Fakarii said the task will be challenging but it accepts the fact that most people in this country are illiterate.
He said opening the office to also receive verbal complaints will help get more people to come forward.
Fakari’i said the new Act requires the Ministry of Public Service to staff his office.
He also revealed his office is looking at the possibility of opening office branches in the provinces.
Fakarii said moving out to the provinces is a plan but it will depend much on the data the office will get about where most complaints come from.
“We will start here (Honiara). We might as well only need to make people in remote communities aware of this Act so they can come to our Honiara office,” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman office, under the Act, now has a separate budget head. Most things required to get the Ombudsman office to do its work properly are required by law.