The Opposition Leader, Hon. Mathew Wale warns that the Covid 19 Development bond payment of $60 million made by the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) and issued by the Central Bank in the secondary market could end up being counter-productive to the intended purpose.
“While this bond is intended to assist government in its efforts to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on our already ailing economy, there are fundamental issues which could lead to the arrangement causing more damage than good.
Firstly, inspite of the many hopes pinned by the government on the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) as an important short term measure to cushion our economy in these hard times, experts have already labeled it a failure. This label was by and large due to a government administration system that is rigged with corrupt practice, nepotism and political influence.
Given that short history therefore, what guarantee do the members of NPF and the public at large have that the funds are going to be used for what the government is now saying it will use it for, and to achieve the intended results? Are the funds going to be administered through a different system from the one that dealt with the ESP?
Secondly, I am also concerned that this is just another example of the government running out of ideas on how to deal with the current economic situation and looking for an easy way out. The government should be working on viable short to long term measures and selling these to donors for financial support; not to be scheming SOEs from the little they have.
The bond is going to come out of the savings of the members of NPF hence it is a matter of public interest that the funds are applied to the intended purpose achieving the intended results. “The NPF Board owes a fiduciary duty to its members not only to ensure that the risks are mitigated but importantly, also to ensure that the funds are administered transparently; not for any corrupt purpose. With the experience with the ESP, I am concerned that the funds will go down the same road making no tangible difference,” adds Hon. Wale.
Thirdly said the Opposition Leader, “I am also concerned that this deal will only impose further burden on the tax payers. The government already has an outstanding debt of level of around $210 million with the NPF. This new arrangement will only increase the government’s debt level. This in turn will affect tax payers whom in the end will bear the responsibility to repay the monies. Something must be done.
The Opposition leader therefore calls on the PM to seriously look at these concerns and to explain what is being done to address them. We all want our economy to be kept afloat in these trying times. The government must not however do it at the expense of our tax payers and the members of the Fund.
The Opposition leader also calls on the NPF Board to seriously look at ways to stop the practice of government taking member’s savings. This is not sound economic policy and should not be entertained easily.