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Mala Agriculture office unhappy with gov’t decision on ESP

By BRIAN LEZUTUNI

THE Malaita Agriculture Office has expressed disappointment in the government’s decision to overlook it in its implementation of the Economic Stimulus Package in the province.

The Auki Office said issues with identifying and monitoring recipients of the funding could be well managed by their office with the up-to-date data they have on active farmers in their area.

 “I feel that the monitoring and evaluation process of the stimulus package would be a challenge on Malaita,” according to Ledley Diudi, former public servant now contracted with the Provincial agriculture office.

He said the Auki Office only knew about the application process as it was flooded with people seeking information and submitting their applications.

“From then on, it was silent, we did not know who got the money and those who do not.

“The process with the ESP …was from the oversight committee to the farmers,” Mr Diudi adds.

He said the Agriculture extension office on Malaita and similar offices in other provinces deal directly with farmers.

“I think the funding component for the productive sector, especially Agriculture could be better dealt with if the agriculture extension office was part of the process.

“This is to ensure that government has a report on how many farmers benefit from it. So, we can monitor and evaluate the impact of this money,

 “Right now, the team from the oversight committee is doing everything, so the ministry offices within the provinces are left out.

The views of Mr Diudi are shared by senior Malaita agriculture officer, Patrick Maesuba who agreed such funding should come through the provincial office as they know those who are active farmers.

He said according to what he has seen, there are over 100 recipients around Malaita province.

“Whether the money would be used to achieve its intended purpose is to be known as we have been left out in identifying and assisting those who really need the support,” Mr Maesuba told Island Sun.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Chairman of the Oversight Committee responsible for implementing the stimulus package, McKinnie Dentana told Island Sun the government had to act fast to implement the ESP as the aim of the program was to ensure the economy did not deteriorate during the time of the pandemic.

Like governments around the world, the Solomon Islands government injected money in different ways and not all aspects of the program went smoothly.   

Under the productive and resources sector component of the ESP “the funding was a challenge,” Mr Dentana said.

 “We have to implement it for up to a year as people were applying for their small projects which is challenging and takes a longer period to complete.”

He said the committee is currently conducting monitoring on Malaita Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Isabel and Central provinces.

 Mr Dentana said reports from the monitoring could be made available by the end of this month or next month.


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