Minister for the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) Hon. Rollen Seleso presided over the formal signing of a second Memorandum of Understanding at Gizo on 4 April 2023 for the transfer of $1.4m to West New Georgia & Vona Vona Constituency’s (WNGVV) being SIG Support to Constituency Development (SSCD) better known as Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF) into the bank accounts of four Ward Development Committees (WDCs) in Western Province.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Minister Seleso hails Hon. Silas Vaqara Tausinga for initiating the first ever Constituency collaboration with Western Province’s four Wards in WNGVV an approach he dubbed as the best service delivery test that many other MPs may learn from.
“Today’s signing ceremony of the second MoU is a clear demonstration that the $3.2 million provided to the four WDCs (Nusa Roviana WDC, Munda WDC, Noro WDC, and Vona Vona WDC) in 2021 through Western Provincial Government was invested properly by the WDCs”, Seleso stated.
The MoU clearly specified the roles and responsibilities of the four WDCs, Constituency Office, MRD, MPGIS particularly the Planning and Engineering Divisions of Western Province in the implementation of the agreed SBD1.4m Constituency funds. Hon. Seleso stated that he has no doubt that all signatories to the MoU would implement their part of the agreement.
In 2021 Minister Seleso presided over the first historic signing of MoU involving the same four Wards and their MP, MID and the Western Provincial Government. It was the first time a Member of Parliament entrusted his/her WDCs with such a large amount of resources to deliver development projects on behalf of his Constituency, something Seleso described as a remarkable effort.
The development and service delivery objectives of the MoU are to: (1) Promote coordinated approach to deliver basic services to the people and communities of West New Georgia and Vonavona Constituency of Western Province, (2) Promote coordination between the Constituency and the Provincial Government of Western Province to deliver needed services in the Constituency using the established WDCs of the Province, and (3) use the enhanced human capacity of Western Province to support the service delivery of the people in West New Georgia Constituency in the areas of engineering, planning and other aspects of project implementation and oversight roles at a lesser cost.
Hon. Seleso stated, “Since we are all serving the same people, any efforts to collaborate with WDCs instead of duplicating efforts should be the way forward. I therefore wish to take this opportunity to thank my colleague MP once again for his determination not only to work with his WDCs at the community level but also work through the existing WDCs in delivering the much-needed services in the communities”.
The $1.4m whose MoU was just being signed has already been appropriated by the Provincial Assembly in the March Assembly meeting and that the micro projects that will be funded from the fund have also been identified and appropriated.
Minister Seleso assured the Premier and the Chairpersons of the WDCs that the MPGIS with the support of the World Bank’s Integrated Economic Development and Community Resilience (IEDCR) project is preparing to support the 172 WDCs in all the Provinces throughout Solomon Islands including the ones in Western Province to ensure that the Planning Processes, Social Accountability and Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Resilience and Disaster Management are institutionalized and mainstreamed in the long run.
The Minister stated that in the next five years, Western Province shall be appropriating a sum of $3,061,916 of World Bank funds to support the training of members of WDCs in Western Province in Participatory Planning, Budgeting, Social Accountability, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management.
He added that the IEDCR project shall be recruiting 26 Ward Support Officers (WSOs) and four of them will be in West New Georgia and Vonavona Constituency. The WSOs will be based in their respective communities providing support to the WDCs and their traditional leaders at the Ward level.
Seleso stated that the MPGIS shall ensure continuous training of the WSOs when they are on board with the support of the Provincial Program Coordinator for Western Province who has just assumed duties in Gizo under the World Bank funded IEDCR. He lauded the World Bank profoundly for providing support to capacitate the WDCs through the IEDCR project in terms of cash and human capacity and assured that MPGIS would ensure that there is adequate technical capacity at the Province and Ward level to support the institutions we are setting up for long term sustainability.
Speaking earlier MP for WNGVV Constituency Hon. Silas Vaqara Tausinga (MP) stated that he is glad that two officials from Guadalcanal Province who are part of the delegation for the Premiers meeting on the Federal Constitution are also witnessing the signing of the MoU on $1.4m.
Tausinga stated that there are no specific personal intentions on what the MoU or the collaboration sets to achieve, nor are they trying to be different from other constituencies. “The main reason for me is that we, the MPs, MPAs, and Provincial Governments, are serving the same people. So, I am trying to share the resources allocated to my Constituency with the established institutions such as the four Wards in my Constituency which are directly under the auspices of Western Provincial Government”, he explained.
He added that quite often, as MP for his Constituency, he does not know what areas in terms of service delivery the Western Provincial Government is focusing on. “So ‘’there has to be a holistic approach to addressing the needs of the people in terms of service delivery because it is these same people that we are serving. So, this approach avoids duplication and replication of service delivery in the Wards”, Tausinga explained.
The WNGVV MP, Hon. Tausinga stated that since the Wards are well established and institutionalised by Western Province as opposed to ad hoc set ups that are not firm, it is best that his Constituency utilises the WDCs as a channel for delivering the much-needed services in his Wards.
“I am not new to this concept of channelling constituency resources through the WDCs under Western Provincial Government. In fact, in 2012 when I was the Minister for MPGIS, after initial discussions with the Chief Technical Advisor and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, I tabled a cabinet paper in August 2012 on Participatory Planning and Ward Development Committees. With the WDC legislated in 2021, we signed the first $3.2m MoU in May of 2021, and now this MoU for the transfer of $1.4m into the accounts of four WDCs in my Constituency through Western Provincial Government”, he stated.
Hon. Tausinga stated that he is very happy indeed with the developmental approach that this is proving to be the way forward as it is being embraced by the WPG and the four WDCs in his Constituency. He said there was no release of funding for 2022 basically because of the Provincial Elections.
Tausinga stated that with the establishment of a new WPG under the Premiership of Hon. Billy Veo (MPA) for Noro Ward which is in his Constituency, the funds have to be released so that work can start in the Wards. He proposed that Western Provincial Government need to consider giving office space to the Munda WDC in the new Provincial Admin Office at Munda.
He thanked the four Members of the Provincial Assembly for the Wards in West New Georgia and Vonavona for their support and understanding, the Chairpersons of the Wards, the Premier and the PS for WPG, the Minister for MPGIS and his delegation for facilitating the signing of the second MOU.
Speaking much earlier, the Premier for Western Province and MPA for Noro Ward, Hon. Billy Veo thanked and lauded Hon. Tausinga (MP) for creating what he called a pathway for delivering services to the people. Premier Veo stated that what MP Tausinga does is unique and hugely subsidizes the efforts of the WPG in delivering services to the people through the WDCs making other Wards in Western envy WNGVV Wards.
Premier Veo added that this approach to service delivery is working and has impacted positively on the lives of the people in the four Wards. He said they just wish and hope that the positive developmental effects of this pathway initiated by Tausinga will cause other Constituencies in Western to follow suit.
The Premier affirmed that Western Province under his leadership embraces this partnership and sees it as a way forward that can be travelled by everyone hence leaving no one behind.
PS for MPGIS Mr. Stanley Dick Pirione saluted Hon. Tausinga for taking such a bold move and making it a commitment that hopefully would be emulated by other constituencies throughout Solomon Islands. “This was your baby Hon. Silas Tausinga. It is admirable that you took the concept to Cabinet in 2012 and today you are implementing it thus not only fulfilling that noble intention of yours but reinforcing with Western Province service delivery at Ward level. This MoU speaks volume of your commitment (constituency) as a leader to partner with the Province in delivering the much-needed services to the people.
PS Pirione assured the Premier and the Chairpersons of the four Wards that with the substantive Provincial Secretary for Western Province now being appointed, the Ministry would continue to provide support to all the Provinces as its primary mandate. He urged every stake holder of the Province and signatories to the MoU to continue to work together for the provision of services at the Provincial level for our people.
Speaking on behalf of the four benefitting Wards, Napoleon Take, Chairperson of Noro Ward Development Committee stated that so far, the implementation of the first MoU has cemented a remarkable partnership, a system where the people in the Wards are now actually seeing the Province and the Constituency working together for the common good of the people in the four Wards. He applauded all the parties to the MoU for enabling such a working together environment which is a worthwhile experience not only for him but for other Chairpersons of the other three wards with their WDCs. “We are all happy and we thank you all officials for facilitating this important occasion”