By EDDIE OSIFELO
The National Council of Women (SINCW) has rejected Government’s announcement that funds had been halted from the council due to ‘non-compliance’.
Rather, SINCW says government’s reaction follows the Council’s strong advocacy against the recent security deal with China.
The Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs Permanent Secretary, Dr Cedrick Alependava told media on Wednesday that the ministry withheld funds from NCW because it did not hold any Annual General Meeting since 2017 and had not provided any audit report.
Alependava said this is in accordance to the Constitution and White Paper of Parliament in 1983.
However, NCW said one way of shutting the National Council of Women from talking is to withhold its annual grant.
“It is the attitude of China. (Money is power) If there is a sense of democracy in this country, those funds should have been released to the Council already.
“There are other Civil Society organisations that are also receiving Government grants through the Ministry of Women,” NCW said.
“It would be good to know whether those organizations have also been asked by the Government through the Ministry of Women on whether they will also audit their finances before funds are released to them.
“Otherwise, this is another strategy by the government to stop ordinary people from engaging in national issues that affect them,” NCW said.
First point is the auditing of the Council’s finances.
“Permanent Secretary, this is for you to know and to understand that concerning the audit of the Councils Accounts, it is the Ministry of Women that is responsible for ensuring that the auditing is done.
“This was done in the past. And it is quite sad that the support has been withdrawn by your Ministry,” NCW said.
“Today the Council has been challenged by searching for funds so that its Accounts and finances are audited.
“The Auditing of the Council’s finances was up to 2015 only. All the ground work for further auditing is done, however, the Council has no money to pay for that,” NCW said.
“The Council is not arguing with the sentiments made by the PS of the Ministry of Women concerning: NON-COMPLIANCE” however, since his Ministry is responsible for the subvention grant that the Government give to NCW every year, this reflects very badly on the Ministry itself for not providing funds for auditing to be done.
“It is wrong to blame the Council of noncompliance when the Ministry responsible is not responsible enough to recognise the critical role the Women’s Council is doing by complimenting the work of the Ministry when it comes to Gender Equality and participation of Women in Leadership and decision-making processes,” NCW said.
Furthermore, NCW said the Ministry to support the organization in this area is important because all the annual reports and Budget expenditures are submitted by National Council of Women every year.to the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.
“The National Council of Women is quite transparent and accountable in its processes to the Ministry of Women.
“The Council appeals to the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs to work closely with the organization by building its capacity rather than criticising it,” NCW said.
“When the Ministry critics the Council it shows the public the failures of the Ministry in not financially supporting the organization enough,” NCW said.
The second point raised by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women is on “Annual General Meeting”.
NCW said this is another area that the Ministry fails.
“Again, for years, the Annual General Meetings of the Council were always funded by the Ministry of Women.
“That funding included bringing the ten presidents of the ten Provincial Councils of Women in the country.to Honiara for the AGM,” NCW said.
“NCW has continuous dialogue with the Ministry on that matter, however, this has also fallen on deaf ears.
“Blaming and condemning the Council is rather unfair because the Ministry responsible did not do what it is supposed to do,” NCW said.
“If only the Ministry could provide extra funding for the auditing and the Annual General Meetings of the Council as was done before, noncompliance- would not be an issue today.
“The National Council of Women has done a lot in relation to Gender Equality in this country.,” NCW said.
“One of the things NCW has done is creating jobs for those people that are currently employed by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.
“The National Council of Women for years has advocated to the National Government to establish a Ministry that would consider and focus on Women and issues that are important to them in terms of women’s development in the Country,” NCW said.