A new and improved Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act and Regulation is in the making and is expected to ready for Parliament by September this year.
This was after Members of Parliament critiqued the proposed CDF Act 2023 and its regulations during a one-day consultation on the draft legislation in Honiara on Monday 5th June 2023.
This is the final consultation the Ministry of Rural Development have with the MPs before the proposed draft goes through other legislative processes.
It was an exhaustive consultation but a very successful one as national leaders from both government, opposition and the independent side deliberated on the proposed draft CDF Act.
Though MPs turnout was unfortunate, the consultation ensued as some of the government MPs were understood to be on official engagement overseas with the Prime Minister and others were engaged in other official commitment.
The consultation is intended to get MPs invaluable inputs into the proposed draft CDF Act 2023 to form an informed legislation that captures and addresses most of the issues and challenges the country face not only on CDF but in development as a whole.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) officials enlightened the MPs on the inefficiencies of the existing CDF Act 2013, major areas of amendment under the new Act, pros of the newly proposed Act and the need for a new CDF Act.
The session allows free discussion among MPs, technical officers of MRD and Office of the Prime Ministers (OPMC) officials on the proposed changes.
MP for Small Malaita Constituency Rick Houenipwela spoke highly of the proposed draft legislation and said that it is long overdue.
He also commended MRD under the guidance of Minister Hon. Duddley Kopu and the leadership of the Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu for the courage and brave commitment towards the reform work as initiated and led by MRD together with the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Hon. Houenipwela attested that CDF is the only funds that touches household’s and lives in the rural areas apart from other funding (s) therefore, it is very important that this legislation is passed, not for the benefit of MPs but for the benefit of the country especially our rural populace.
Minister for the Ministry of Public Service Hon. Makario Tagini while sharing the same sentiments said these reforms is a way forward. He also applauded MRD for taking the bold commitment to undertake the CDF reforms.
MP for West Are’are Constituency Hon. John Maneniaru when contributing to the proposed draft CDF Act and Legislation said a legal frame work to guide the implementation of CDF is a must.
“We need to set the (government) house in order for the benefit of our people.”
The same sentiments were also shared by other Ministers and MPs who were present in the consultation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the amendment of the CDF Act and finalization of the Regulation is the priority task of his government.
The review of the CDF Act is being currently done with its associate regulation together with the Public Financial Management Act and its Regulation.
“This piece of legislation is very important with the objective to ensure that the management and disbursement of CDF is carried out with integrity and in a prudent manner with the view to safeguarding the interest of potential recipients of the fund. “Also, our people need to be fully engaged and participate in our economic activities and development,” PM Sogavare said in a previous consultation event.
Minister for the Ministry of Finance and Treasury Honourable Harry Kuma previously also expressed his appreciation towards the current review process MRD undertakes.
He highlighted that the CDF funds must be open for accountability and audit processes so that we can properly manage the funds.
Minister for the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Honourable Culwick Togamana also expressed his gratitude to MRD.
“Please make sure the new Act has teeth to bite so that, when the funds are misused by anyone including important stakeholders like the Preferred Suppliers and those who were at the receiving end (constituents), the law has to take them to task,” Minister Togamana earlier said during a similar consultation.
There were also frenzied discussions for the new law to take constituents or project recipients to task if there are cases that they resell their allocated projects to other people.
The new CDF Act and legislation once passed in Parliament will improves 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.
Permanent Secretary for MRD Dr Samson Viulu thanked the national leaders (MPs) for their contributions to the proposed draft Act 2023.
He also acknowledges UNDP for their funding support towards the CDF reform work.
– MRD Press