Malaita govt launch CITREC
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper – 15 February 2019
“MALAITA Provincial Government has launched the Canadian International Training and Education Corp (CITREC) program in Auki, Thursday.
“The launching was witnessed by Malaita Provincial Assembly Members, executive member and 44 selected students who will be the first Malaita youths to go into CITREC program.
“Of the 44 students, 12 are females.
“Speaking at the launching program Malaita Province catertaker Premier Peter Ramohia said the launch is a pride and joy for Malaita Alliance for Reform and Transformation (MART) government.
“He described the launching of CITREC as a great achievement for Malaita to start invest in labour mobility in Canada.
“Malaita is the third province to partner with Canadian government under the CITREC program since 2016 after a meeting with Canadian officials in Honiara.
“Therefore Malaita Province will expect to send more young people to be trained and work in Canada under the three year’s deal.
“The study areas that prioritize under the CITREC program are; retail management, agriculture management and kitchen helper.”
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Star News.
Hou meets US govt’s MCC team
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper – 15 February 2019
“CARETAKER Prime Minister Rick Hou has met with the visiting team from the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) mid-week, in Honiara.
“The MCC team is currently in Honiara to discuss the immediate first steps with the Government to advance the threshold program development with the key coordinating ministries.
“Prime Minister Hou when welcoming the visiting delegation, reiterated the Government’s appreciation for the inclusion of Solomon Islands in the MCC Threshold Programme.
“He said this is a worthwhile acknowledgment in recognition of Solomon Islands efforts to economic reforms and fighting corruption.
“I believe this is also a successful outcome as a result of the passing of the Anti-corruption Act and the Whistle blowers Act – both of which have commenced,” he said.
“The Prime Minister said the Government’s commitment in fighting corruption have been further strengthened with the ongoing work to establish the Anti-Corruption Commission and to strengthen integrity institutions.
“Prime Minister Hou also informed the visiting delegation that Solomon Islands have developed several tools in addition to the SDGs that will also assist the process during the diagnostics and analysis phase.
a. The National Development Strategy 2016 – 2035;
b. the Development Finance Assessment Report;
c. the Solomon Islands Integrated Financial Framework ;
d. the Solomon Islands National Infrastructure Investment Programme;
e. the Public Private partnership Policy, and
f. the various sector strategies
“MCC’s acting Vice President Policy and Evaluation Tom Kelly in response has congratulated the Prime Minister and his caretaker Government on behalf of the US Secretary of State.
“He said this new partnership is in recognition of the country’s progress in the areas of good governance.
“This is a unique bilateral program and Solomon Islands has been specifically selected because of the progress it has made over the past months in good governance,” he said.
“Mr Kelly said the focus will be on programs that will drive economic growth through the private sector as well as programs that will enhance good governance in the country.
“We are also prepared to assist Solomon Islands to qualify for a bigger grant and to help Solomon Islands improve on its score card,” he said.
“MCC’s Managing Director of Threshold Programs James A. Gerard informed the Prime Minister that they will assemble a team of experts that will be dispatched to Solomon Islands soon to carry out phase one of the program.
“He said phase one will include collaborative meetings to dialogue on the country’s constraint analysis.
“Mr Gerard also acknowledged the commitment and readiness shown by the Prime Minister in establishing an interim coordination mechanism which the Ministry of Development Planning & Aid Coordination (MDPAC) had been identified to host the focal point for MCC.
“He said it is encouraging to note that MDPAC will also be assisted by a coordinating group from three central government ministries namely the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade and the Ministry of Finance & Treasury.
“The visit by the US delegation followed the announcement made by the Prime Minister in a press conference last week of Solomon Islands selection as a recipient of the US Government’s MCC threshold program.
“The meeting on Thursday was also attended by H.E Catherine Ebert Gray, US Ambassador to PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and Keithie Saunders, US Resident Consular Agent, Solomon Islands.
“Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Jimmy Rodgers, Secretary to Cabinet James Remobatu, Permanent Secretary to Foreign Affairs Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary to MDPAC Shadrack Fanega, Permanent Secretary to Commerce Riley Mesepitu, Solomon Islands Ambassador to US Robert Sisilo and Press Secretary to Prime Minister Douglas Marau also accompanied the Prime Minister for the meeting.”
Copyright @ Solomon Star News.
Preparations underway for Solomons 2019 census count
Quoting the Solomon Star newspaper – 14 February 2019
“THE Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO) in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury is coordinating efforts to count every citizen in the forthcoming 2019 National Population and Housing Census.
“This is the sixth census survey the country to have since the first one was conducted in 1970 under the then British authority.
“While the census enumeration is planned for November 2019 and will be announced by the Prime Minister later this year - 2019, the SINSO is now stepping up efforts in its preparation for the very important event (census).
“Solomon Islands had its first census count in 1970, the second was in 1976, and again in 1986, 1999 and the latest and the fifth one in the series was in 2009.
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Star News.
14 February 2019
Protecting the Integrity of the Solomon Islands National General Election
Huge efforts have gone into protecting the integrity of the Solomon Islands national General Election to take place in April this year.
The Chief Electoral Officer Moses Saitala told the local media (quote)
“The SIEC has implemented some strong effective business processes to protect the integrity of the National General Election. This includes the new election process we adopted in September 2018 where we captured voter registration applicants’ photographs, fingerprints and other information. This allows us to detect instances where persons unlawfully register at multiple occasions.”
Theelection campaigning is reported well underway with various political parties launching their manifestos. Some are calling it an opportunity to stamp out political corruption.
Today, Thursday, it was said the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) National Criminal Investigation Division (NCID) had arrested a man on the 12th of February 2019 for allegations instituted under the Electoral Act.
The Police reportedly made the arrest after receiving referrals from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) revealing details of a 50-year-old man from Malaita Province registered to vote on seven separate occasions, using different names, dates of birth and other details on each occasion. Only one of the seven registrations allegedly included his correct details.
The man is believed to have been charged with seven counts of Misleading Information under section 113 (2) of the Electoral Act which carries a maximum penalty of $50,000.00 or five years imprisonment or both. He is expected to appear in court today.
The Supervising Commissioner of Police, Gabriel Manelusi, said, “The arrest was made possible following the joint effort of the RSIPF and the SIEC in ensuring that all facet of the election process operate lawfully, fairly and safely.”
Earlier this week the Solomon Star newspaper carried a report that a group of voters in East Kwaio Solomon Islands were openly demanding cash in return for their ballots saying they were sick and tired of parliamentarians favouring their supporters.
.A spokesperson for the group, Chief Jack Gege, told the paper youths in particular had missed out on many constituency development projects over the years.
Mr Gege was claimed to have said for more than a decade now they had voted candidates into power only to have them support a handful of cronies and ignore everyone else.
He said the minds of voters in ward 17 were made up and come polling day on April 3 they would only cast their ballots if someone bought them from them.
Under the Solomon Islands new Electoral Act bribery can land a person in jail for 15 years and draw fines of up to $US19,000 which is the equivalent of $SBD150,000.
Following up on the East Kwaio story, Transparency Solomon Islands (TSI) wrote urging those in East Kwaio Constituency in Malaita Province to stop from the intention not to cast their votes in the 2019 national general election unless they are paid with cash.
TSI’s statement on the issue read (quote)
“The revelation in yesterday’s publication is a wake-up call for every constituency to stop selling their votes because it is wrong to vote for candidate that will help you personally, or help your family.
“As we prepare to go to the polls o April 2019, Transparency Solomon Islands is urging voters to vote wisely. Vote for a good leader, someone who has a vision for his/her constituency and the nation as a whole,” the anti-corruption body stated.
“TSI says election bribery is an offence; hence your vote is worth more, it is worth better essential services, better roads, better schools, inclusive leadership and so forth - not just a bag of rice on devils night.
“Vote buying is one such act that candidates (and their agents) practice which has bred a general perception of supporters/voters sense of ‘being entitled” - that an MP will only help his/her supporters/voters compared to the rest of the constituents.
“Citizens must realize that your members of parliament are voted into parliament to represent the constituency (not his/her voters and supporters alone).
“As the country is preparing for another National General Election (NGE), the issue of vote buying is again on the rise. It is practiced openly under the guise of gifts and custom.
“Sadly vote buying on Devil’s Night (commonly referred to the night before election) has now become a common aspect of elections in the country that people even speak openly about it without remorse.
“Time and again tales are told about how agents work tirelessly during the night to dish out money and gifts to influence voters. Some candidates use respected community and church leaders to influence people’s votes.
“Citizens need to realize that once we accept vote buying as ‘normal’ and ‘okay’ we are accepting bribery, fraud and dishonesty. Our country has experienced huge setbacks because of corruption. Citizens must not sit back and accept vote buying as ‘life as usual’.
“It is time that we the citizens must be vigilant and report any such vote buying activities (if known). Vote buying and bribery is illegal – citizens must speak up, say something when you see something.
“Exercise your rights as a citizen by voting without undue influence, make your vote count. Voting for someone merely as an act of reciprocity or feeling obliged after receiving gifts and/or some form of assistance is not the right way of exercising your rights.”
In another TSI statement, reported by Radio New Zealand, it said (quote)
“Transparency Solomon Islands says MPs should not have direct control over funds for their constituencies.
“The watchdog's chief executive Ruth Liloqula said many voters in Solomon Islands think change will come from electing new leaders.
“But she said true change can only happen if the power over Rural Constituency Development Funds or RCDFs is removed from the "clutch" of parliamentarians.
"The election is not about choosing new leaders that will lead the country in the next four years but it is all about RCDF. Where they could benefit most and those who have not benefited are using this coming election like to at least make some money.
"Even if they don't make any money in the next four years out of the RCDFs."
Transparency Solomon Islands' Ruth Liloqula said people need to speak up about corruption as voting in a new representative is no guarantee things will change.
"Regardless of whether you vote in the former Member of Parliament or new Member of Parliament, until such time as people stand up and speak that this is not right and demand accountability nothing much will change for us."
Ms Liloqula is known to be a strong campaigner for fairness and rights, as well as a champion in the fight against corruption.
As an ‘outsider’ but with equal feelings for fairness and justice I very much hope the forthcoming national General Election will see a return of a government continuing to pursue national reconciliation, unity, economic prosperity and justice for all in keeping with the ideals for which TSI and honest citizens believe in.
Sources: Radio New Zealand and Solomon Star News.
MOMENTUM FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN-UP GATHERING PACE?
Call to remove wreckage
“Farmers and fishermen coming in from the provinces to sell their produce and catch are calling on the responsible authorities to remove the two ship wreckage in front of the Central market and repair the wharves for proper use.
“The call was made through the Solomon Star North West Guadalcanal Stringer John Toki following what many farmers claimed as additional expenses on transport hiring from the main wharf to the Central Market.
“The two ships known as M.V Bikoi 11 and M.V Yandina have been washed ashore by strong winds and have been for the past years without nothing being done by responsible authorities to remove them.
Over the past years, former Member of Parliament for Aoke Langalanga Mathew Wale also questioned the legal framework as the number of wreckage increases without anything has been done to address them.”
Copyright @ 2019, Solomon Star News.