Transparency Solomon Islands welcomes all the comments negative or otherwise with regard to list of payments made against the Economic Stimulus Package that it has released for publication. In so doing it wants to make clear that our examination of the payments is based on the information to the public for who can apply for this portion of the Economic Stimulus Package nor more no less. This portion is said to be accessible to the regulated business meaning registered business. Those who do not have registered business and are operating in the unregulated economic sector are catered for under the portion that is dispersed through the member of parliament for each constituency. A very neat explanation and justification for the Members of Parliament to again have access to huge amount of funds in the name of constituencies, for the unregulated business/economic sector.
With regard to the ESP going through members of parliament, the question that occupies the minds of the many frustrated citizens of this country and the taxpayers is “what impact, achievements and proven experience has this country experienced, observed from the millions of tax-payers money that were channeled through members of parliament under the Constituency Development Fund Scheme that warrants the ESP or any other funds to go through them?”. The achievement of the CDF is in the monetization of the National General Elections and guaranteeing the return of the majority of sitting members of parliament in the next parliament. Already they are managing and administering the ESP as they would the Constituency Development Fund. The CDF has not brought about any development nor have any impact on the development of this country nor its people, its social services and the list goes on. For the Economic Stimulus Package why not channel it through the PCDF, the responsible technical ministries that facilitated the coconut grooves, the cocoa farms, piggery, poultry, the unregulated fisheries sector etc. Transparency Solomon Islands is so concerned that there does not seem to be any analysis nor in-depth planning and thinking that have gone into the decisions taken with regard to the Economic Stimulus Package. Will it set the foundation for economic recovery, or is it another scheme for the privileged and well-connect groups and individuals a package unlikely to have much impact? To remind the taxpayers of this country the total going through a member of parliament for each Constituency from the time [year 2000] that the CDF is channeled through members of parliament totals $54,300,000.00.
In this article Transparency Solomon Islands shares the last list of payments out of the Economic Stimulus Package. Again, as is the case with the Private Sector list and that of the Individual List, there are a couple of companies here that no information could be found in the Company Haus Registry. There is therefore no way of knowing who are the actual recipients of the amount against the company name, if indeed they are registered, when they are registered and if they do have cocoa farm? There may be a simple explanation for this but until such time as the Permanent Secretary of Finance publishes the names of the applicants the allocations remain questionable and is contrary to the information given to the public.
Transparency Solomon Islands is pleased to see that a portion of the Economic Stimulus Package is being allocated to the sector that has kept the economy of this country going crisis or otherwise. Again the government is urged to put in place a robust monitoring framework to evaluate progress and capture achievements of this sector.
In the same token given the many discrepancies in the Company Haus Registry and the ease with which one can register as a citizen in one company and a foreigner in another TSI urges that it is now time that the registry is overhauled, and more strict requirements are put in place for registration of companies and businesses. Transparency Solomon Islands has heard complains from clients that through the frequent changes in the Company Haus Registry it has made it difficult for the ordinary man who want justice for wrongdoing to hold them to account. It is suggested that for registration of company, directors, and shareholding at least the passport number and photo should be a mandatory requirement.
Again, the information about companies is as per Company Haus Registry. This is the authority that keeps a registry of those companies operating in the regulated sector of our economy. It is very disappointing to note that there is no fisheries project in the list but again the fish sellers are mostly in the unregulated sector. They contribute hugely to our economy in fuel taxes, income for shipping companies and the market chain that support their income generating activity where everyone in this chain benefits from community to those who buy the fish for food. If the Economic Stimulus Package can allocate funds to a company with no information, for rentals that have been accumulated prior to Covid-19 surely it can give big consideration to good projects in the fisheries sector that requires a couple of freezer that affected by unreliable shipping schedule. These are the businesses that are amongst those truly affected by Covid-19 needing rescue. Re-look at those worthwhile proposals that you turned down because they are not regulated. It is not only the regulated sector that will build back this country’s economy.
With the release of the list of companies whose main business sector is listed as Agriculture either in the Company Haus or in the list of payments, Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Permanent Secretary and the Economic Stimulus Package Committee to publish the names of the applicants whose projects/proposals were approved as per list of payments. A number of entities in the lists so far published by Transparency Solomon Islands were not the applicants but suppliers or landlords etc. to and for the recipients of ESP. The Permanent Secretary of Finance needs to put the record straight. By publishing that list the public can help you with measures to reduce further risks of the mismanagement and corruption which now surrounds the ESP. There is an urgent need to ensure access to information about public decision-making relating to how [ESP] and to assure taxpayers that this response will truly contribute to setting the foundation for economic recovery.