Honiara : 16 January 2016
Letter to the Editor, Solomon Star Newspaper.
Last week saw the new British High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, His Excellency Chris Trott, make a courtesy call on the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, the Hon. Manesseh Sogavare.
In a subsequent press release from the office of the Prime Minister, it was reported that the PM had spoken about the Democratic Coalition for Change Government policy priorities upon the request of the British High Commissioner, including saying in the first quarter of 2016 the DCC Government will table the legislation for the establishment of Special Economic Zones in Solomon Islands in a bid to promote and ensure economic development across the country.
The Prime Minster reiterated that the policy agendas of his government are guided by the reasons behind the ethnic crisis and that necessitated decentralisation of development.
Reference to the ethnic crisis and the moves towards decentralisation, I suspect would have been particularly interesting to the new British High Commissioner, because, between 2003 and 2007, His Excellency had served in London, first as deputy head of the FCO’s Human Rights Department, and then on secondment to the Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit at the Department for International Development.
Earlier during the week the Prime Minister had also met with General Vincent Brooks the United States Army Commander for the Asia-Pacific Region and had assured the General of honouring the pledge to have the ‘Bloody Ridge’ Memorial Park project ready for next year’s 75th Anniversary of the landing of Allied Forces on Guadalcanal.
Mention was also made by the Prime Minister, during his talk with the General, of the importance of addressing the recommendations of the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Prior to Christmas, during the International Anti-Corruption Day, marked in Honiara on the 9th December 2015, Prime Minister Sogavare had also made it known that the DCCG promised to introduce six new Anti-Corruption bills in 2016, according to earlier election pledges.
The six anti-corruption bills will include new legislation for an Anti-Corruption Bill, providing for the creation of Solomon Island’s own Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), an Integrity Whistle Blower Bill, an Ombudsman (Special Provisions Bill), a Leadership Code (Further Provisions Bill), a Leadership Code (Further Provisions Bill), a National and Provincial Election (Further Provisions Bill) and a Freedom of Information Bill.
In commenting of the raft of anti corruption measures being proposed by the government, Transparency Solomon Islands called on the 10th Parliament to consider the seriousness of corruption in the society.