Transparency Solomon Islands has hit back at the Minister of Finance and Treasury describing his response to their article on board membership of DBSI as unconvincing.
Below is TSI’s full response to Minister Kuma
Transparency Solomon Islands has thanked the Minister of Finance Mr. Harry Kuma for his response to our articles on the Development Bank of Solomon Islands.
“We also thank him for his clarification of the provision of the DBSI Act, with regard to the membership of the board. Not all read the DBSI Act. For purposes of Transparency and Accountability the names of the three Permanent Secretaries should appear alongside those appointed by the Minister on the DBSI website. Currently they do not appear in this list. The Minister shared very important information informing the public that this Interim Board ceased in December 2019.
Whilst the Minister has followed the process as claimed in his explanations of some of the appointments remain questionable and only a court of law can truly interpret the said provisions and clarify whether or not he has breached the DBSI Act in the appointment of the Board of the Development Bank of Solomon Islands. From what he has shared in his response he has in fact breached the DBSI Act 2018 when he reappointed the four former (three of whom are politically aligned) members of the Interim Board. This is not only inside trading, but the revolving door syndrome appointing politically aligned people to top posts. Transparency Solomon Islands maintains that there are irregularities in the appointment of Board Members. This he has not satisfactorily clarified.
Such a response from someone that represents the people as a leader does not assure anyone that the governance of this financial institute is free from political influence and interference. It is also clear that the Minister fails to acknowledge that it does not need rocket science for anyone to see that the bank’s governance is highly politicized, through the appointment of Board Members. That he cannot deny, and this is what needs fixing to build trust, image, reputation, credibility, and integrity of the bank. Not addressing this will definitely not be taking the newly revived DBSI anywhere. It is very likely to bring more problems and create many challenges for the bank. Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the Minister to fix that in the interest of building trust in people that truly this bank will not go same way as the former DBSI.
Transparency Solomon Islands call on the minister for finance to respond to the questions raised on the appointment of certain members of the DBSI board of directors rather than the approach he took. Address the issue. People will appreciate that than the defensive approach. Transparency Solomon Islands welcomes comments and criticism. Transparency is the way to avoid this on all fronts for you owe it to the people whose power you exercise.
Transparency Solomon Islands reminds the Minister that the questions that needs your response and the public are interested in are:
- Why former interim directors of the DBSI Board namely, John Muria Jnr, Robson Djokovic, Andrew Manepora’a, Trevor Manemahaga, and Gane Simbe reappointed to the board given the fact that the Act says the minister to appoint members in the board proper based on the advice of the interim board? The implication is that these people advice the minister to reappoint themselves to be appointed into the proper board of DBSI. Transparency Solomon Islands is not convinced by the lame answers given. Are you saying or are they saying there is no one else in the whole of Solomon Islands as experienced as them? Is this not a conflict of interest?
- According to the DBSI Act Part 3, 4 (a) (i) the nominating committee to nominate a person suits the eligible criteria after satisfied that the person has significant knowledge and experience relevant to the operation of the bank. What knowledge and years of experience do Djokovic, Muria Jnr and Trevor Manemahaga has relevant to operation of banks, compared to former NPF managers, former Finance Permanent Secretaries etc. and other relevant institution?
- Why were not the names of all the members of board proper not uploaded on DBSI website or publish via mainstream media for transparency sake?
- Where is independence of the DBSI board of directors from politics given that Muria Jnr, Djokovic and Trevor Manemahaga are all employed under the generosity of the current executive government for their political allegiance for they are all political appointees?
- Where is the independence of the DBSI Board of Directors your Permanent Secretary reiterated in his public statement and where he also claimed the board possess the appropriate mix of skills, while in fact most of them have no background in financial institutions?
- Why not publish the full list of applicants for the Board and reasons for their rejection against the three political appointees. This would assure people that you have no one else suitable but these three political appointees who being in the interim board recommended themselves it seems if indeed the process was complied with as shared by the Minister in his response. These are important information for the public to know after all this bank is supposed to provided financial services to the public.
- Why are two directors of the same company (Clandestine Entertainment Ltd) Mr. Muria Jnr and Mr. Djokovic appointed to the proper board? What financial services does this company provide. Is it savings and loans, banking, or insurance, where one would have the necessary experience and knowledge? This is just too much of a coincidence. Is this not an issue of conflict of interest?
Transparency Solomon Islands will continue to play its important role as an anti-corruption watchdog by advocating for transparency and accountability in the interest of rolling back mal-administration and abuse of entrusted powers.
Transparency Solomon Islands therefore call on the minister for finance to respond to the issues raised than focusing on TSI. Be transparent and treat those you represent with respect and explain and assure people of their right to have the right information. It is unbecoming of a national leader to downplay issues through press releases stemmed from poor journalism. Transparency Solomon Islands asks these questions of you because you occupy people’s position of power.
Transparency Solomon Islands will continue to raise people’s concern and advocate for good governance transparency and accountability. TSI urges the Minister to take a good look at his decision and rectify these conflicts of interest and the politicking of the newly revived DBSI must stop to allow it to successfully implement its mission to provide sustainable financial services to all Solomon Islanders in particular in the development of the rural areas, small and medium enterprises and commerce and industry.