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In our most recent article on the Economic Stimulus Package Transparency Solomon Islands urged the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to release the list of successful applicants.  We urge him to do so in a timely manner and without delay given the fact that this information has been leaked.  More importantly he needs to do so to verify his statement that the list going around is not correct, and also to put to rest the allegations that the Economic Stimulus package is subject to both political and ESP nepotism practices.  This according to information being made available to Transparency Solomon Islands affects both the Constituency allocations and that of the general public.  From the information on the latest Stimulus Package payments Transparency Solomon Islands takes a closer look into payments made to the Constituency through their Members of Parliament. From publicly available information the Executive Government informed the citizens of this country that the amount of ESP going through Members of Parliament for their constituencies is $600,000.00/constituency.  The table below however tells of a different story.  A story of self-serving representatives of the people of Solomon Islands, some more so than others and how the DCGA may have used Covid – 19 pandemic and the Covid – 19 SOE funding responses for political gain and agenda.

Table 1:  ESP Allocation to Constituencies

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Of the 38 strong DCGA government members only 14 of its members excluding West Are Are MP Mr. John Maneniaru have yet to receive their second payment to either bring up the amount they are paid to $800,000.00 or to $3,100,000.00 as in the case of the East Malaita Constituency.  Most of the members of parliament that are in the DCGA government have already received their second payments.  Whilst this is the case, none of the Members of Parliament who are in the opposition coalition and the independent group have had any second payments.  Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Opposition Coalition and the Independent Group not to demand for any further payment but accept the amount allocated [$600,000.00] to all constituencies.  It is clear that the ESP in this case is heavily influenced by politicians within the DCGA led government. The question is does the Prime Minister know about what his ministers and his backbenchers are doing influencing the allocation of the ESP as can be seen in the table?  Does he approve of the discrepancies in the allocations for the Constituencies? Will he rise to this challenge and assure the people of this country that he is their Prime Minister and not for the Constituencies of the members of his party and his coalition government? Will he be taking measures to put this right or will he be more concerned about being in power than doing the right thing by the people of Solomon Islands. Currently his constituency’s allocation is within the limits of the ESP allocation for constituencies under the ESP. Is he going to legalize the new amounts by getting another $200,000.00 to be paid to him later? Will he be approving the $800,000.00 for the Opposition Coalition and Independent or will this be used to lure more MPs across to OUR Party and DCGA? This seem to be the current practice where the constituencies that have increased their amount to more than $600,000.00.  They were paid twice and some more than that to arrive at the amounts in the table.  This seem to be the practice as per list given to Transparency Solomon Islands of the latest payments.

Whilst the Prime Minister is doing well keeping the Covid-19 behind the walls of the quarantine facilities members of his coalition are helping themselves to huge amount of funds, for which Transparency Solomon Islands and the public know will not be retired honestly as seen already in Constituency Development Fund, the Shipping and Transport Grant and other funds channeled through the Members of Parliament for the Constituencies. This has again taken the hard earn level of trust that the government has gained from the public.

From the story that one can deduce from the information in this table it is all very well to demand nurses to act responsibly, point out how much allowances they have been paid, and for people to be honest and not make use of the Covid-19 to extort money from the government, but the big boys in the Executive Government are doing exactly the same thing. They fail to remain within the allocated amount of the ESP for the Constituency and went beyond it. 

Transparency Solomon Islands believes that being members of the Oversight Committee, the two public officials [Secretary to Prime Minister & Permanent Secretary Finance and Treasury] who echoed these very sentiments in response to public queries that they are aware of these discrepancies. But then the public can understand these comments from the two public officials. 

With regard to the nurses the allowances as mentioned by the Secretary to Prime Minister are true but obviously he has not been a patient of the hospital most recently to also witness just how far and hard the nurses go in looking after the sick patients. Their environment is appalling and the resources they are given to work with inadequate. Why should these two officials [Secretary to Prime Minister & Permanent Secretary of Finance and Treasury] care about the nurses.  Recently TSI learned that another hatched Health scheme of the Secretary to Prime Minister, is just about to be rolled out for Permanent Secretaries and their families similar to the one for Members of Parliament and their families. Again the provider of this health scheme is also the little known health Insurer Mustard Seed International that to date no response has come from the government to the question of whether it is a financial institution and under what particular act is it operating? Under that scheme they can get treatment from private doctors and travel overseas at taxpayers money.  Yes, Transparency Solomon Islands would like to see nurses being reasonable but deal with them with respect and be transparent about how much all other frontliners are getting and have they been paid or not.

All responses to Covid-19 pandemic must be made public and transparency.  Transparency Solomon Islands, again calls for the auditing of these funds and tabling the report before the parliament.  The Auditor General has a huge role in this to keep our representatives accountable for the decisions they make, the funds they receive etc.  Lastly Transparency Solomon Islands urges the Permanent Secretary to publish the list of successful recipients of the ESP package.  Our next article will look into companies that receive ESP followed by individuals from the list we have.


Issued by TSI

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