VIEWPOINT- Isabel wants anti-corruption office

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TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands (TSI) commends the wish of the Premier of Isabel Province Leslie Kikolo to have an anti-corruption office set up in his province once the establishment of SIICAC rolls out to the provincial level.

Here is a Premier that recognizes that the negative impact of corruption on his province is unacceptable and is prepared to do something about it.

The interest echoed by the premier as reported in the Island Sun Newspaper on Tuesday 8th June 2021, shows how concerned he is about corruption and its negative impact on social service delivery and economic growth. 

Isabel Province is the first province to return a clean audit followed by Central Islands province. If the Executive Government shows the same passion as the provincial leaderships this country could give its young generation the opportunities they deserve as citizens of Solomon Islands.

Instead, several of the audited reports of the government ministries conducted by Auditor General’s Office, are filed away. 

The Minister responsible probably is ignorant of his responsibilities and has not made any motion at all for the House [parliament] to debate the findings and doing something about it. 

In the Auditor General’s report, you can find millions of public funds in the hands of some members of parliament, and public officials unaccounted for. 

No one is held to account for it.  In those reports you will find the following: –

  • Widespread or significant non-compliance with Acts, legislations, relevant regulations, and Financial Instructions/ policies
  • Money used for purposes other than those for which it has been provided for.
  • Financial and performance reporting is inadequate.
  • Serious breakdowns in financial management and accountings systems
  • General lack of adequate and proper records maintenance
  • Officials using positions of influence to assist associates to receive benefits.
  • Millions of dollars of revenue lost.
  • Bank reconciliations not performed.
  • Imprest accounts not retired.
  • Control over assets inadequate
  • Procurement procedures not complied with
  • Unauthorised expenditure
  • Inadequate reporting
  • Conflicts of interest not declared.
  • Little action to discipline public officers.
  • Lack of monitoring and oversight by senior management

Now that we have a Finance Minister who has been a Permanent Secretary and is well-versed with these issues, he will commit these audit reports to full parliament debate as was done by our founding fathers and others in the 1990s.

The premier for Isabel Province must be commended for publicly asking for an office of Solomon Islands Independence Commission Against Corruption for his province once it rolls out its program to the provinces. 

The Prime Minister is the right official to raise this to since it is in his portfolio. But the Commissioners have been appointed for over a year now but so far, the people of Solomon Islands have heard very little voice from it and no action. 

Although the Anti-Corruption Act stipulates that the Commission should have its own independent budget from that of the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the budget at an examination says otherwise. So, the question is, is it truly independent? 

Maybe it is not and that is why nothing much is happening, including the education, the proactive part of the work of the commission.

The Prime Minister should have a look at what is happening with resourcing and supporting the Commission.

The Premier of Isabel Province in asking for an office of SIICAC to be established in Isabel.

This should send a clear message to unscrupulous investor that the political leadership and administration of Isabel province is not for crooks, thieves and fraudsters.

The revelation by premier Kikolo that over the last five years Isabel Province has maintained its clean audit report, is something the province and the nation as a whole must be proud of.

Provincial government representatives and their leadership are setting a good example something that the national government should pay attention to.

The Solomon Islands National Government have never in its lifetime achieve anything such as clean audit. For the most recent 20 plus years the national government has totally done nothing about the poor financial report on its expenditures.

Every government’s ministry failed to achieve clean audit, including the ministry of finance and treasury, a most confused ministry it would seem.

The ESP still remains a scam and it will remain so in the minds of the majority of Solomon Islanders and residents until an audit has been undertaken to verify and find out if indeed the package stimulated any economic growth at the constituency level and for regulated businesses. 

For now, most see ESP going through members of parliament as another CDF, for MPs to give to their supporters.  

Transparency Solomon Islands commends the transparency and accountability practiced by provincial governments and call on citizens to demand the same of the national government.

Transparency Solomon Islands commends Kikolo for voicing out the need of his province to have an anti-corruption office.