By DELI OSO
THE care-taker government’s candidate for Prime Minister has underscored political and fiscal stability as the leading priorities of his group should it form the new government next week.
The Member of Parliament for Small Malaita Rick Hou told the Solomon Star in an exclusive interview yesterday that his group,which has been the initial Opposition group in the current 10th Parliament, switched to the care-taker government in a bid to form a new coalition government to bring about political and fiscal stability to the nation.
“Political and fiscal stability underpin the general stability of any nation and these were the fundamental reasons for switching sides.
“We did not join the caretaker government in search of positions or in search of money. We were never offered any money because everyone in Parliament knows that when we were offered money, we never accepted them,” Mr Hou said.
Mr Hou said the caretaker government coalition partners consists of the two political parties that formerly made up the Opposition and three political parties of the former Sogavare-led Democratic Coalition for Change Government and they are now working together to sort out their priorities for the next 12 months should they successfully form the new government. The 10th Parliament dissolves in December 2018.
“We are currently sorting out our priorities and hopefully will formally announce them to the nation after the election of a new Prime Minister next Wednesday.
“Two of our priorities are ensuring political stability and stabilising the fiscal situation that we are currently facing.
“The fiscal position of the government has been deteriorating very fast and we are looking at how we can best address it.
“If nothing is done to stop the fiscal bleeding, you know we will suffer, everybody else will suffer and the whole country suffers.
“So we see it as in our best interest and in the best interest of the entire nation that we have intervened to salvage this dire situation.”
Mr Hou added that, “In terms of political stability, we have observed that in the last two year, the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has been unstable.
“I think one of the problems was that its numbers was too big and there were elements within it that were going about causing instability.
“We cannot run a country with an unstable government. You cannot do anything when one eye is on the ball and the other eye is on the enemy.”
Mr Hou said the other priorities will be announced in due course and therefore would not pre-empt them at this stage.
The Small Malaita MP said the third reason for his group joining forces with the caretaker government was because the new Opposition and Independent group camping at the Honiara Hotel came up with a proposed Cabinet line-up without consulting his group of initial Opposition MPs which make up the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP).
He said the DAP Executive felt offended and disregarded by the non-consultative approach and decided that its MPs leave to join the government.
When asked if he would maintain the more than 50 political appointees employed by the Sogavare-led Democratic Coalition for Change Government if his candidacy for the Prime Minister-ship becomes successful, Mr Hou said, “This is something that is quite upfront in my mind.”
He said it was the subject of his discussion with the outgoing Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare over the last two days and the East Choiseul MP had agreed that they have to do something about reducing the number of political appointees in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mr Hou said the approach that will be taken on the matter is that the new coalition government will look at the positions that are required to achieve its priorities during its 12 months in office and get rid of those that are not needed.
He said another important consideration in going forward on this issue is that the employment contracts of all political appointees are tied to the term of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government and as such, their contracts automatically cease at the end of the reign of the former political government.
Meanwhile, the Small Malaita MP called for calm as the nation awaits the election of a new Prime Minister by Parliament next Wednesday.
“You know situations as this can cause excitement which can lead to unpleasant situations.It is advisable that everyone remains calm during this political situation.
“There is nothing to gain by going about causing problem as we await the Prime Minister’s election. You are only hurting yourself and others by doing so.”
He appealed to Christians nationwide to pray and seek God’s leading and to inspire everyone to do what is right.
Mr Hou also appealed to fellow politicians to respect each other’s vote and to allow each other to vote with their conscience than by intimidation.
He said as the government candidate for Prime Minister, he prefers that all 30 Members in the government fold vote for him.