The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) has conducted an informative and fruitful one-day consultation on the new Solomon Islands Constituency Development (SICD) Policy for Members of Parliament (MPs) from the government on Wednesday 22nd February 2023.
Held at the Cabinet room within the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC), the consultation was to explain to government MPs how the homegrown policy will function and implement towards improving rural livelihoods in the Solomon Islands. And also, to get invaluable insights from MPs on the policy to pave a way forward for effective delivery of social and economic services in the rural areas.
The consultation was graced by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare who highly commended MRD for taking the challenge in developing this very important policy.
It was a fruitful consultation as elected leaders expressed their support towards the policy which will bring improvement to service delivery and development in the 50 constituencies.
Many of the MPs have conveyed their appreciation to MRD under the leadership of Honourable Minister Duddley Kopu and his Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu for the formulation of the policy (SICD) adding that this is a way forward toward improving development across the country especially in the rural areas.
They said that if any policy that can improve rural development and delivery of services in the constituencies then it should be the SICD policy that will be implemented through MRD.
Others also highlighted the positive impacts that Constituency Development Fund (CDF) programme administered by MRD and implemented by constituencies continue to bring to communities and individual lives in the country.
Some expressed strong support for the establishment of Constituency Development Growth Centres (CDGC) which will see decentralization of government services in the rural areas.
Among the senior Ministers of the Crown who contributed to the discussion was Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) Hon. Jeremiah Manele who said that the policy is timely as Solomon Islands is expected to graduate from Least developed countries (LDCs) status in 2027 therefore, important that we have such an important policy in place.
Meanwhile, Minister Kopu thanked his colleague MPs for their support, commitment and constructive contributions to the draft policy.
He also acknowledged the MRD management and staff for their diligent effort towards the formulation of the policy which will lead to the amendment of the 2013 CDF Act.
Minister Kopu said insights from the consultation will be incorporated in the policy draft by the MRD policy task force before further deliberation and endorsement by Cabinet.
“This policy is crucial to ensure all development funds are disbursed as planned to achieve tangible developments – improving people’s livelihood in all constituencies in the country,” he added.
SICD is a homegrown policy and is part of the important reforms that MRD is undertaking towards reforming the constituency developments and decentralizing government services in the rural areas.
Presentations focused mainly on the Management of CDF, challenges and MRD reforms as presented by Director of Rural Development Division (RDD), Milfred Delemani and Deputy Secretary Technical Hugo Hebala while the draft policy was presented by Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu.
The consultation identified issues and problems under the current constituency development practices through the CDF and recommendations to improve or include in the new SICD Policy, the following areas: Guidelines & Regulations, Governance, Planning, Implementation, Management, Monitoring & Evaluation, Reporting, Constituency Development Growth Centres and Committee and, the General Recommendations on the CDF Reform Act.
PS Viulu also thanked the MPs for their important contributions to the draft policy adding the views and suggestions are important as it will help the policy task force in the finalization of the policy framework.
He said Rural Development is a key pillar of the Solomon Islands Government’s objective of stimulating sustained growth prioritized in consultation with donors.
“Other donor partners are more than willing to support the rural development program but we need to amend the CDF Act 2013 by putting in place accountability mechanisms.”
PS Viulu also recognized the political government for their support to the policy.
He also emphasized that the SICD Policy key goals are to support and provide a policy framework to review the 2013 CDF Act; and it will enhance and contribute towards empowering all Solomon Islanders to participate meaningfully in constituency development activities to improving their livelihoods.
He said the SICD Policy shall focus on the following key thematic areas: governance, socio-economic infrastructures, livelihoods income generating projects, essential services such as health, education and police- security, and downstream processing and value adding.
Provincial consultations on the SICD Policy were conducted last year.
– MRD Press