By EDDIE OSIFELO
OPPOSITION Leader, Mathew Wale has supported the call by Governor General Sir David Vunagi for all Members of Parliament to provide leadership with integrity.
Speaking in response to the Speech from the Throne delivered by Sir Vunagi in Parliament recently, Wale said as MPs some are Ministers and exercise the powers of Executive government, others are Chairs of various committees in executive government, whilst others of us animate parliamentary supervision of the executive government through standing committees and the two offices of Leader of Independents and Leader of Opposition.
“He (Vunagi) is right, if we all took our responsibilities seriously and discharge those with integrity, our democracy would be very strong indeed, just as our founding Fathers had hoped.
“And the result would flow on into society and the economy,” he said.
Furthermore, Wale said a look at the budget data over the last six years reveal very low budget execution rates across almost all ministries.
“No proper public expenditure reviews were conducted across ministries to assess whether actual expenditure matched budget plans.
“Only one ministry has done such a review several years ago, and it showed that actual expenditure skewed badly from budget for that ministry,” he said.
Wale said all ministries should do periodic expenditure reviews to help them in decision making and budget discipline.
“Budgets are derived from plans, and if ministries are unable to stick to budgets, it is doubtful that plans are ever going to be achieved.
“This is a serious weakness that must be addressed but it demonstrates the great need for leadership in the ministries,” he said.
Wale said this is why ministers need to understand their role and responsibilities in policy making, planning, budgeting, and implementation.
“Guidelines must be formulated to assist ministers in the performance of their work.
“Ministers ought to undergo training to understand their work and cabinet responsibilities and processes,” he said.
“Let us swallow our pride in this matter.
“Ministers’ performance is essential to effective executive government,” he said.
Wale encourages the PM, as coordinating minister, to establish a regular assessment of ministers’ performance.
“I hear that some ministers have a poor attendance record at their offices.
“This is terrible and dishonoring to the offices they hold, and ultimately it is disrespectful of the people of Solomon Islands,” he said.
“The people of this country have very high expectations of their government, and rightly so.
“Please do not fail them by neglecting the solemn responsibilities entrusted to you as ministers,” he said.
Wale said the other point he wishes to make is this – all 50 of us are MPs first and foremost.
“All other responsibilities derive from that. This means that our parliamentary responsibilities take precedence – lawmaking, supervision, and advancing respect for the constitution.
“This is important to minimize the temptation for the executive government to use parliament as a rubber stamp,” he said.