The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) has inaugurated its first nationwide awareness campaign on the incoming new Constituency Development Funds (CDF) Bill 2023 through a tok-stori with East Guadalcanal community leaders at Foxwood area in North Guadalcanal on Wednesday 11 October 2023.
Community leaders, chiefs, Ward Development Committee (WDC) members and a number of East Guadalcanal leaders joined the awareness.
Work on reforming CDF commenced in August last year by MRD with the formulation of the first ever Solomon Islands Constituency Development (SICD) Policy 2023-2032, and drafting of instructions for the CDF Bill 2023.
Government through Cabinet approved the policy (SICD) in March this year which set a bedrock for the ministry to carry out review work on the CDF legislation 2023.
With the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) firm commitment to see improvement and strengthening of the governance of CDF programme for the benefit of the people, DCGA through cabinet without a second thought approved the New Bill on 5th October 2023 for submission to Parliament for deliberation in the coming weeks.
The CDF Bill 2023 is now expected to go before Parliament later this month (October) as it is being formatted and printed by the Attorney General Chambers.
The CDF Bill and legislation once passed in Parliament will improve the CDF delivery mechanisms as well as pave the way for more positive changes in our rural communities to ensure all rural Solomon Islanders become meaningfully participated in development activities to improve their social and economic livelihood.
The new bill, amongst other things, will confine Members of Parliament to their role as lawmakers, while providing an oversight to the implementation of the CDF program.
Under the new CDF Bill 2023, most of the responsibilities in the implementation of the CDF program has been delegated to public servants, constituency committees and the people.
It is believed that these changes will further improve good governance including transparency and accountability on how the funds are used to assist and empower our rural folks.
Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu who headed the first-ever CDF Bill 2023 awareness said this is the first awareness on the bill adding MRD will reach out to the rural communities across the country to share right information and educate people about it in the remainder of this year and early part of next year.
The purposes of the new proposed Bill are;
Constituency Development Fund; and
Islanders in development.
“We believe that by reaching out to our rural people who are mostly the beneficiaries of this bill will help them understand it. The bill is set for tabling in Parliament in the coming weeks.”
PS Viulu added that reaching out with the right information about the bill will not only help our rural people better understand their roles under the new law but will also help them to use it accordingly once it becomes an Act of Parliament.
He further confirmed the new CDF Bill 2023 was already approved by the government through Cabinet on 5 October and will be ready to be tabled in the Parliament for its first reading by MRD Minister Hon Duddley Kopu this month.
During the awareness, some of the main sections of the new bill were explained to the participants.
Deputy Secretary Cooperate (DSC) Constance Wane took the first opportunity and spoke on the Administrative reforms, governance and appointment of constituency officers, and misconduct in office which was stipulated in the new CDF Bill 2023.
Rural Development Division Director Milfred Delemani also explained important sections of the new bill that dealt with Inclusivity, constituency development plan, signatories, constituency assets and reporting.
Dr Viulu wrapped up the awareness with Section 32 of the bill ‘Offences and Penalties’ and strongly emphasised its implications to the participants.
According to Section 32 (1) A person who misappropriates any funds or assets from Constituency Development Funds, or assets or causes any person to misappropriate or apply the funds otherwise than in the manner provided in this Act and Regulations, commits an offence.
PS Viulu emphasized that this new bill once become an Act of Parliament will not tolerate any misconduct, misappropriation of funds and corruption.
“Our rural people also need to understand that all parties involved in the CDF programme under MRD will be held accountable.
“This new bill will be applied to our MPs, Government Officials, Suppliers and beneficiaries,” PS Viulu stressed.
He thanked the East Guadalcanal community leaders, Chiefs, Ward Development Committee members and Constituency Officers for attending the awareness.
He added that MRD officers will be deployed to communities across the country to make sure right information about this new bill reaches our rural populace.
Meanwhile, the President of the Gwaenalu Movement and Moli House of Chiefs Melgibs Topuhu acknowledged PS Viulu and his officers for reaching out to them with this very important awareness.
“As community leaders, we are pleased with the awareness. The responsibility now is for us community leaders to go down to our rural people and inform or educate them about this very important bill.
“We support this bill and we believe that it (bill) will pave the way for us to work together with our national government and leaders to develop our rural areas.
“As leaders of East Guadalcanal, we assure your ministry that we will go down to our people and inform or educate them about this important bill,” Topuhu said.
MRD’s vision is to ensure all rural Solomon Islanders become meaningfully participated in development activities to improve their social and economic livelihood.
– MRD Press