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Parliament Decides to Regulate RCDF

The National Parliament of Solomon Islands recently debated and overwhelmingly passed a private members motion tabled by Hon. Patteson Oti, Member for Temotu Nende for the regulation of the disbursement of Constituency Development Funding for which Members of Parliament are held accountable.

The Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF) is donor funding paid to Members for constituency development purposes. Members have for many years been strongly criticised by the public for allegedly misusing the funds. The amount given to Members has increased from $5,666 in 1992 to $2.0 million in 2008.

Oti opened his motion by explaining that it was consistent with the CNURA Government’s policy of a transparent mechanism for the management of RCDF but emphasized that the intention was not to compel the government to pursue a strategy to achieve its policy objective but rather to consult and adopt a mechanism satisfactory to all stakeholders and one that complied with public finance regulations.

Oti submitted that besides the need for increased accountability, transparency and mandatory reporting on the use of RCDF, the current mechanism by which RCDF is expected to be managed by Members makes them “project managers” and “social security agents” and impinged on the time they needed to spend on important parliamentary and executive duties. Such a change would begin to re-inform the proper role of Members of Parliament.

A similar motion had been presented to Parliament by Hon. Edward Huniehu, MP for East Are’Are (now Minister for Mines & Energy) on 11 July 2003, when he was a government backbencher. That motion was defeated by the government. [Link to Hansard Debate]

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