Parliament today (Friday 22 December 2023) passed with amendments the much-anticipated Constituency Development Funds (CDF) Bill 2023 through the Committee of the Whole House.
This was after four days of heavy scrutiny and debate on the floor of Parliament from both sides of the house including members of the Independent side.
The Bill passed becomes an Act after the Governor General assents it.
The CDF Act 2023 will cater for the administration and regulation of CDF, specifically to strengthen good governance; ensure improved and effective delivery mechanisms of CDF and promote equal and inclusive participation of all Solomon Islanders in development.
This is a historical achievement for the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) through the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) which commenced the CDF reform work in August last year (2022) through a nationwide series of stakeholder consultations, spanning the national, provincial, and rural/community levels to gather invaluable insights for the formulation of the first ever Solomon Islands Constituency Development (SICD) Policy 2023-2032, review of the CDF Act 2013 and the drafting of instructions for the CDF Act 2023.
Unlike the CDF Act 2013, the new CDF Act 2023 recognized partnership and also provides for heavy penalties.
The new Act, amongst other things, confine Members of Parliament to their role as lawmakers, while providing an oversight to the implementation of the CDF program.
Under the new CDF Act 2023, most of the responsibilities in the implementation of the CDF program has been delegated to public servants, constituency committees and the people.
The CDF was initially established by the government of late Solomon Mamaloni in 1989 along with the Solomon Islands Communities and Provincial Special Assistance Fund (SICOPSA) purposely to assist MPs to respond in a timely manner to the urgent and often times emergency needs of their constituents.
Though SICOPSA was discontinued after its initial two years, the name changed to Rural Community Development Fund (RCDF) and to what we now know as CDF.
The initially idea then was to decentralize development resources and empower Members of Parliament (MPs) to address the specific needs and priorities of their constituencies.
Since then CDF has evolved into its current status to consume a third of the country’s annual development budget to promote local development, improve infrastructure, and enhance the overall quality of life in communities across the country. Because of its widening scope and increasing allocation from the development budget, the changing dynamics of our development needs and the growing call for reform to the fund, DCGA identified the review of the CDF Act 2013, as one of its policy priorities.
The Ministry (MRD) in collaboration with its rural stakeholders took the initiative to implement this policy priority and worked hard to produce the Constituency Development Funds Act 2023, that is now passed by Parliament.
The Governor General will assent to the new CDF Act 2023 with his signature and the date in the name of His Majesty and becomes an Act after the Governor-General’s Royal Assent is received by the Clerk to Parliament.
The Minister for MRD Hon. Duddley Kopu is expected to determine the Commencement Date of the new CDF Act 2023 as soon as the Ministry receives a copy of the Royal Assent.
CDF is a programme of the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and is implemented by the 50 constituencies in the country through the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) purposely to improve the social and economic livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders.
Also read related articles via links provided below in relation to the various consultation led by MRD since August 2022 on the first ever Solomon Islands Constituency Development (SICD) Policy which set the basis for the formulation of the new Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) Bill 2023, now CDF Act 2023.
– MRD Press