The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has expressed recognition to the Ministry of Rural Development Permanent Secretary and his staff for taking a courageous step towards improving the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) governance.
This was after the MRD Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu and his team appeared before PAC on Monday 6th November 2023.
Work on reforming CDF towards improving its governance 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 CDF Bill on 5th October 2023 for submission to Parliament for deliberation this month.
Outspoken Leader of the Opposition (MP) and member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Honourable Mathew Wale said he was very impressed with the direction PS Viulu and his staff is taking to improve the mechanisms of CDF and its governance.
“PS, I have to say, I’m very impressed with the directions you have taken in a very short time since you assumed this responsibility. It’s praiseworthy. Keep at it.
“…and then going forward, of course keep learning. Eventually, this CDF bill when it becomes an Act, we might repeal it and then that gets absorbed in a broader governance mechanism…so with that, you know, an eye to the future, that should inform the steps you take,” Hon Wale emphasized.
Wale further stated that we are not the only country that has CDF, Papua New Guinea has it with similar mechanisms adding there are other commonwealth countries that do have CDF like Kenya, and Pakistan and there maybe more.
“…it would be useful to look at their experiences, the kind of governance they have, and how we could benefit from some of the lessons learned,” Hon. Wale said.
PAC Chairman Honourable Dougals Ete also acknowledged PS Viulu’s leadership and for leading the ministry in the reforms which will improve the governance of the CDF program.
“…all in all, I would like to thank you and your team to see the intensity and the goodness of this act to improve its governance structure. So, I do thank you indeed for that effort you ploughed into your ministry to take as priority because you know a lot of money flowing into the constituencies that sometimes has not been properly accounted for,” PAC Chair Hon. Ete said.
Other PAC members also shared the same sentiments.
PS Viulu in response thanked PAC members for their wisdom and recommendations shared which will help the ministry in its work for further improvement to the CDF programme.
“There are new strict measures in the new CDF Act that will come into force when it commences with the hope of a much-improved delivery of services under the CDF program.
“It is a milestone achievement for our country in terms of strengthening the governance of one of the much-criticized public funds in the history of our independent state,” PS Viulu stated.
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.
– MRD Press