The Leader of the Independent Group has appealed to the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to rescind the decision of the Caucus and allow the five Members of Parliament to receive their portion of the Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF).
This week Caucus has made a decision it purported to be in line with the Auki Communique to withhold the Peoples’ Republic of China’s (PRC) component of the RCDF from the five Members of Parliament (MP) in the Opposition who were part of the meeting that drew up the Auki Communique.
Independent Leader Honorable Robertson Galokale stated that the PM should allow the PRC sourced portion of the CDF for the five constituencies namely Aoke Langalanga, Small Malaita, East Are’ are, West Are’ are and West Kwara’ae.
Galokale explained that the said MPs should receive the portion of the PRC sourced RCDF based on five points.
“The funds in question are part and partial of the 2019 Appropriation Act 2018, which was appropriated by Parliament in 2018 under the Ministry of Rural Development. Although the recent shift in foreign policy has affected the source of the funding, by law it does not alter the purpose and intention of the funds as approved by Parliament. As such withholding it could potentially constitute an act of misappropriation of public funds,” Galokale stated.
Galokale further added that the Auki Communique, with due respect to its objectives, is not law, nor does it have basis in law or legal standing hence cannot supersede any lawful provisions of an Act of Parliament, which in this instance is the 2019 Appropriation Act 2018.
The Leader of the Independent Group also stated “it would be prudent to recognize that a major function of government is ‘fair and equitable’ delivery of goods and services to all citizens of our nation. This must never be overlooked within the context of our national policies and it must follow strong political will and responsibility of national leadership”.
“The state is responsible for influencing how goods and services are distributed in our society and this influence must be used to ensure fair treatment for all Solomon Islanders.,” Honorable Robertson Galokale further pointed out.
Galokale said lastly, it would be in the best interest of the government and the people of Solomon Islands for Caucus to reverse its decision allow for the release of the RCDF in question so that the people of the constituencies concerned can exercise their democratic and constitutional rights in deciding for themselves whether or not to accept the funds.
Galokale also reminded the government of the basic tenet of democracy which was summarized by the 12th President of United States of America Abraham Lincoln who famously quoted “…government of the people by the people for the people…”
“It will be irresponsible of the government of the day to “penalize” a certain group of people who are citizens of this country, the government is theirs and it must act in their interest and also afford the same treatment to them as well,” Galokale concluded.