The Opposition has hailed corrective measures the Minister of Finance and Treasury Hon Manasseh Sogavare outlined to instil fiscal stability during the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s (SIDCCG’s) immediate term in office.
The measures were contained in Hon Sogavare’s presentation to cabinet on November 23, 2017, a week after the Rick Hou-led government assumed office.
“The Opposition welcomes the corrective measures the Finance and Treasury Minister outlined as the way forward to instilling fiscal stability over the next 12 –month reign of the SIDCCG,” Opposition Leader Hon Manasseh Maelanga said.
But the Opposition Leader added that a fundamental question that the Opposition wishes to pose to the government is “Besides the stringent measures introduced to arrest the poor fiscal situation, what other strategies does it have in place to ensure quality fiscal adjustments?”
Hon Maelanga said, “It would appear that SIDCCG’s immediate fiscal stabilisation strategy involves across the board cuts on all non-essential costs and payments out of development budget but what about streamlining the recruitment of Political Appointees in the Prime Minister’s Office and re-aligning the Public Service for efficiency?”
Hon Maelanga also raised concerns on the government’s reprioritisation strategy saying “SIDCCG needs to be more strategic in its prioritisation. It is very important for government to verify what levels of government are responsible for determining its immediate priorities”.
Hon Maelanga added that government priorities and effectiveness of public programmes should be placed at the forefront of deciding on expenditures in the immediate term which should then determine reallocation of resources from lesser to higher priorities or from less to more effective delivery of social programmes and services.
Within this context, the Opposition Leader called on the government to only focus on essential services, mandatory expenditures, and servicing debts owing to service providers while imposing a complete freeze on all payments to do with less productive or wasteful development programmes, the Rural Transport Initiative Programme in the remaining period of the current fiscal year.
Going forward, Hon Maelanga suggested that the SIDCCG should also consider control measures such as:
- Budget tracking and reporting on monthly basis by submitting monthly statements to determine the financial position,
- Establish an internal audit to investigate irregularities:
- Suspend all overseas trips unless funded externally,
- Return scholarships under the control of Members of Parliament to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources; and
- Suspend the Shipping Grant and National Transport initiative in 2018 and reallocate the funds to other development initiatives and infrastructures such as wharves, roads, bridges, airports and port terminals.
- Opposition Press