Transparency Solomon Islands continues to call on Solomon Islands Government in particular the Executive and the Legislature for a more transparent and accountable systems for the management of the COVID 19 State of Emergency [SOE] funding. Since the declaration of State of Emergency [SOE] on March 25th, 2020 and its subsequent further extension, the public is made aware of so much public funding injections that were made to the emergency response operations from government or taxpayers fund. Information about these can be accessed through public records in mainstream media and social media.
In response to the threat of COVID 19 Transparency Solomon Islands raised the issue of transparency and accountability in implementation processes and how decisions are made, and resources allocated accordingly. There are now many allegations of misappropriation, conflict of interest, inside trading on SOE funding that warrants government to be upfront on releasing all information relating to these public funds.
It does not need rocket science research to know that the processes are very obscure opening itself up for corrupt conducts let alone the abuse and misuse of power. To put these allegations at rest Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the Executive Government and the Legislature to produce verifiable reports on COVID 19 SOE expenditure and table these in the upcoming Parliament starting on 27th July 2020. Funds for COVID 19 response were also disbursed through Members of Parliament under the SOE. They too need to report on where, how, what and who they spend these public funds on. There is absolutely no monitoring mechanism at all to account for the funds or make it transparent and accountable.
In the absence of such a robust monitoring mechanism, Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the Executive Government to produce and table an audited financial report of COVID 19 response funding, clearly showing how these emergency funding was spent. Transparency Solomon Islands urges government to disclose all information on SOE contracts, and suppliers that has been implemented by the Executive Government on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands. This information should include rates of allowances of our frontline workers and numbers of meetings conducted by oversight committee and other committees set up in response to COVID 19 including information on their allowances if paid.
Transparency Solomon Islands calls on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to call on his officials to prepare such a report not only for the Parliament but for him to be assured that his decisions have been implemented transparently and in an accountable manner. Most often it is the case that officials fail to furnish the Prime Minister with the correct information playing their own politics at the cost of public goods and public money for their own benefit. Transparency Solomon Islands supports the Prime Minister on his response the threat of COVID 19, but the obscureness of the processes calls for an audit now of how SOE funding have been expended and for the presentation of this in coming parliament.
On print media there is also a record of funds coming into the country from the development partners and those we have diplomatic relations with. The citizens of Solomon Islands need a report giving information on how much funds were given by each development partner and what areas are these funds allocated to. As much information as possible needs to be made public before the consideration of whether to extend the SOE or not. The report should also cover how much funds were diverted from normal health services to COVID 19 from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Transparency Solomon Islands is concerned to hear allegations that in the current budgetary preparation period Ministries have been asked to cut their budget for purposes of increasing the Constituency Development Fund, constituency funds going through Members of Parliament. This in our view is irresponsible especially at a time when the country is faced with COVID 19 pandemic threat.
Transparency Solomon Islands also calls on all NGOs to come together, join hands, and step up our COVID 19 SOE Transparency and Accountability Campaign, a campaign calling on government to make stronger and all efforts towards reporting SOE expenditure before the coming parliament meeting that will start 27th July 2020.
Issued by TSI tonight