By Gary Hatigeva
FINANCE Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare has lashed out at the former Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for Marovo, Snyder Rini over statements made about the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) in relation to its 2018 budget.
The Minister of Finance on the floor of parliament was replying to contributions made by members of both the government, opposition and the independent groups, into the debate of the Appropriation Bill 2018.
During his contribution to the debates, the former finance minister made claims of mismanagement from the government’s part in the way it is handling matters of national interest including major government projects.
He accused the government over good governance and economic issues, which he suggested to have costed the government unnecessary costings creating gaps, in the way it spent money using tax payers’ money.
He also accused the current regime over deals made into some of the projects, which were initiated during his term as minister of finance.
Rini was also suggesting that the government made an uncalled for decision to control its fiscal position in the budget, which he added, won’t stimulate the drive to deliver the much needed services to the people of Solomon Islands.
He further accused the government, based on the budget interpretation, that they wanted to make surplus, but questioned on whose interest was the intended surplus for.
Rini further suggested that with the cut of more than 50 percent in the budget, nothing will be delivered to this country.
“So we are not expecting any good thing coming out of this budget my good people of this country.
The former finance minister also accused Australia’s involvement in the fibre optic cable project, for the pulling of the undersea cable to the Solomon’s shores.
He also claimed that Canberra’s involvement and how deals are set out under the project are very much going in the way, which he described to be, in line with their terms and wishes, and this, Rini believes ought to be questioned.
However, when wrapping up the debate session into the budget, Sogavare said all the emphasis of government mismanagement of finance over the last three years is actually a failure from the former finance minister’s part, and that his contribution also has no rational into the debates of the budget.
Sogavare added that the country’s financial position in the last three years, which led to what is also affecting the first quarter of 2018, was in a complete mess under the watch of the former finance minister who the current said to have also misled his former regime into believing all his bad decisions.
The East Choiseul MP stressed that even with all these mess created, the instigators have the guts to accuse the reformed SIDCCG over what they were fully responsible for.
He further added that the former finance minister’s mishandling of the projects is one of the reasons why the new government had to take certain measures to regain the trust of investors in major government projects.
He said with intentions from the former minister of finance to get as much shares and be directly involved in the production and related sectors is a misconception that continues to block investors from coming in or establishing in the country.
The Finance Minister pointed out that it is not for the government to run these sectors, and should instead look at how best it can ensure the right investors are attracted to invest in Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, in his response to Rini on his accusation of Australia and other development partners of the country, the Finance Minister emphasised and reminded members these people are very important development partners to the country.
He said in the case of Australia and New Zealand, they were Solomon’s development partners even before the birth of this country.
He added that on this part, the former continued to show his incompetency and continues to talk rubbish in parliament.
He further added that regarding the country’s close collaboration with Australia on many issues including certain major projects, the former was reminded of the importance of being part of a growing global community.
“We are leaving in a global community and we need each other more than ever before,” Sogavare further added.
He then suggested that politicians continue to shut themselves out from the reality of the global world that everyone is living in today, which continue to harbour such feelings and peruse this isolationist agenda.
“We need to face the reality, because the fact of the matter is we are incapable to developing this country on our own and need the support of our development partners.
“Just look around us, the major infrastructures given to us by development partners are falling apart in front of our very eyes, or left incomplete because we are careless about our responsibilities to make proper allocations in the budget.
“A perfect example is the national transport fund where our annual contribution is $40 million, which we fail to do our part under the watch of the former minister of finance.
“When will people like that ever learn?”
Sogavare claimed that during the former finance minister’s term, funds were redirected from policies that he cannot even care to see through, which only needed little touch ups.
“This is not a new policy that’s in place, it only lack a few final touch ups and arrangements, but instead, funds were redirected
“We came up with another politically driven policy of funding road machines for constituencies and chocking ourselves financially,” Sogavare further claimed.
He however accused Rini for pushing on an intention to extend the funding of the machineries to buy logging machines.
“…and if I did not intervene to place a check on what was clearly developing into serious financial disaster
These are policy decisions that carry very little thinking and for us to stand in this parliament and take pride in them only goes to show that we have lost the mind
He then reiterated that in the case of the country’s development and donor partners being accused, the house was reminded that two of those that were accused by the former, have actually rescued Solomon Islands from the mess we created ourselves in year 2000.
He said it took Australia 14 years from 2003 to 2017 at a cost of 21 billion SI dollars of their tax payers’ money, to bring normalcy to this country.
“And I was so surprise that we stand up openly in here and we criticise our friends.
“And when we are sick, where do we run to? We used the advanced hospital facilities in these countries that we continue to irresponsibly criticise in this house just to score our political points.
“These kinds of attitude run contrary to the practice of our custom on respecting people who help you.
“If you care to turn up at the Lawson tama stadium to farewell the RAMSI you will see that the whole country turned up
“What does that showed?
“That showed how much our very people treasured the relationship we have with our development partners and say thank you for what they have done for the country
But one of the things the former Prime Minister highlighted was that he regretted sacking the former finance minister a little too late.
“All I can say is that you have a different minister of finance now. Someone who comes in at 8 o’clock and stay on the whole day working and giving political leadership, guiding the operation of the ministry of finance and treasury,” the new finance minister stressed.