By Gary Hatigeva
ESTABLISHING the anti corruption act or whatever fancy laws to fight the course, will not stop corruption to thrive in the country’s governance system if the government does not deal with its root cause.
The issue of corruption in the country is not something that needs someone to be rocket scientist to realise its existence and those in power have failed to see that the root cause is dealt with first.
Member of Parliament for Shortlands, Chris Laore made the statement when contributing to the debates into the Anti-Corruption Bill 2017 yesterday, who suggested that the people who carry out the work for the government are part and partial of the root-cause he was referring to.
In his contribution, the Shortlands MP pointed out that instead of looking directly at the bill as the only solution to fight corruption, the government should look at why corruption has happened, and why corruption is thriving like cancer in our country.
He then called for the review in the packages and welfare of public servants as the solution to curbing corruption because, he stressed that no laws in the world will eradicate corruption but can only help reduce it as it will always be there.
“Despite owning almost all the resources, our people are still poor, why? It’s a question we ask our government system, and the system needs to realise that it is a must to review the welfare of our public servants
“Tell you, the salary level is bad, in my case for example, I have worked 21 years as a public servant, but 21 years of struggling, because of the system, which has been badly infected by corruption.
“It is a matter of social inequality, and good salaries for public servants vs water, power, and other necessary bills and the prices of goods and services are going up, how can a public servant survive this?” Laore asked.
The system has really affected us. Like fuel for another example, in Honiara, the price would be at $10 per litre, and doubles when it gets to the provinces. So it all comes back to the system, and that’s why I reiterate my calls for the governments look at salary scale levels of public servants.
He said the government continues to fail its people to as the talks are cheaply surrounding increment, which he questioned it.
He said increment is point zero one every year and that, he added, is almost 20 cents promotion every year, and that comes down to the is of promoting others and contradicting the other side of things, which is purely corruption in itself.
Laore however highlighted that if he was Prime Minister, he would push to improve the structures of all public servants, going up to a place where they can be sustained up to the next pay day, with a bit for their wants, education and other related matters.
“Like I said, social inequality is one of the major root cause of corruption that we talk too much about as they are inter-related
He further suggested that for the remaining months that are left, he reiterated his urging for the government to improve the packages of public servants.
“…because if you don’t do that, the new goods tax bill that is coming, if enacted, will have even heavier impact on them and that will just allow for corruption to thrive in the system
“We do not feel the effect because I think we have more than enough, but the lower brackets will go worse in these corrupt practices, and like I stressed that I’m not here to talk about the bill, but to talk about the system, which already has corruption eating up its core,” he further added.
The opposition MP then warned the government to be mindful after passing the law, especially those people who travel with their spouses using public funds, and illustrated the case of the Prime Minister of Malaysia who was recently arrested by the anti-corruption, for using government funds to pay for his wife’s credit card.
“But his wife is not an honourable or a member of parliament, therefore, be careful. Like I said, it is a system we create to destroy us because we have not dealt with the actual root cause of the matter,” the Shortland MP said.
He went on to add that the root cause will continue to harness even with the Anti Corruption law’s establishment, because in the Solomon Islands context, not a whole household has a job, maybe one or two out of the rest will have a job, and that means, there is a huge reliance on the employed few.
“So the question is, where will that public servant get the needed funds to meet the need and demands for a heavy reliance on them to sustain them up to the next pay day? He will certainly receive bribes anywhere or even steal.
“We are not addressing the root cause of corruption. All we do is trying to kill our people who worked their hearts out to serve the interests and make money for the government, but are continuously being looked down on.
“So I ask you the government, improve the structures of public services so that no corruption would ever come up because they will be able to meet their needs at the end of the day, so they can work without financial and economic influences.
“And anybody who does that after, that’s where the bill will deal with thoroughly deal with,” the MP further stressed.
He further suggested that the cycle will continue, despite whatever quotes and approaches taken or talked about.
“I was also tempted to write an essay like a novel on corruption to present in my debate, but I thought it would be useless. All we need to realise and deal with is the cycle within the system in order to deal with corruption,” Laore further pointed out.
He added that even if we pass the bill, corruption will continue to thrive and like a ripe fruit, it will never reverse its cycle and will end up rot and it’s the same with the anti-corruption, which if we do not deal with its core problem, will leave to rot in our country.