This was spilled on the floor of the Parliament by the Minister for Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare when he wound up the debate on the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Act 2018 on Monday.
“Nearly more than $200 million is currently locked up in the National Transport Fund.
“And the funds were contributed by Asian Development Bank, Australian Government and Solomon Islands Government.
“But since 2016, the government cannot access the fund to be used as a funding source for our local contractors,” Mr Sogavare said.
He was on the verge of telling the donors of the NTF to take back their money so that Solomon Islands can withdraw its contribution to enable the government to look at best ways to address the infrastructure development in the country.
Sogavare added that seeing that our roads are deteriorating both in Honiara and in the provinces, the government has allocated funds for road infrastructure while more than $200 million were locked up in the NTF.
Under the NTF Act, all the contractors that were awarded under MID will not access the NTF Funds system and it boils down to the capacity issue.
MID did not have the capacity to implement this fund and the local contractors themselves did not have the capacity that can produce the standard that was prescribed under the NTF.
Another pool of fund that was developed under the national government is the fund that will go directly to the 50 constituencies in the country that was used to purchase ships and road work machines.
“So that’s three pools of resources to address the infrastructure development in this country but nothing moves,” Mr Sogavare said.
He added that to improve the capacity of MID is much easier because the government can always bring into the country the qualified engineers to team up with the local engineers.
“But the problem lies with our local contractors and to improve their capacity it will take time,” Mr Sogavare told the donors.
Mr Sogavare said that the donors of NTF assured him that they need one more chance if they can come up with a better plan on how best they can implement the fund.
“But if this chance does not work then I have only one option and that is to repeal the NTF Act in the parliament to enable the government to take back its share and find the best ways to deliver road maintenance and possibly building new roads,” Mr Sogavare said.
The National Transport Fund has been proposed to provide a long term sustainable mechanism for funding the maintenance of transport infrastructure and to support the provision of inter-island shipping services which are socially necessary but not commercially viable.
By ANDREW FANASIA