Corruption is a hindrance to development in this country, a High Court judge says.
Justice Stephen Pallaras, who has completed his three-year contract, shared his observation in an interview with the Sunday Star.
He said corruption is one of the obstacles that hold back the development of this country.
“And this is from an outsider’s perspective and it’s not meant to be insulting to the Solomon Islands which I have grown to love greatly as a beautiful place,” he said.
“There is corruption in politics, there is corruption in business, there is corruption some say in the law, and there is corruption some say in the police force.
“There is corruption everywhere, everybody knows it and what astonishes me is it no body, absolutely no body in authority does anything about it.
“Someone says the governments haven’t done anything about it because the governments are corrupt, and that if they do something about it, it is not in their interest.
“Someone say the governments don’t know what to do. Well that’s not acceptable,” he said.
Pallaras said there is no country in the world that needs an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) than the Solomons.
He said an ICAC is the most effective tool to tackling corruption because it investigates corruption and is independence of the government, the police, the judiciary, and everybody.
“And until and unless an ICAC is well funded and established in this country, I fear for the future of Solomon Islanders because kids can’t get an education, hospitals are a disgrace, roads are full of holes, public safety is an issue, the little of mismanagement, government mismanagement it is so extensive as to beyond description beyond every field.”
He said in every field there is mismanagement.
“In every field I suspect there is corruption.
“That has to be the starting point for the Solomon Islands developing into a full-fledged, civilised, domestic community.
“And the best way to encourage business and economic growth is to tell people that if they invested money here, it will be treated fairly and everybody will be on an even playing field.
“So long as they have to pay the price of corruption, this country and the people, the poor people who cannot afford it will be forced to pay the cost of that.”
Pallaras said Solomon Islands needs to have a body such as the ICAC.
He added that a law that works well in other countries is the unexplained ‘Wealth Law’.
“And basically it’s this, if you are on an income of $100,000 or whatever and you’ve got five homes, each cost $200,000, you have to explain how it is that you were able to acquire those assets legally.”
He said if you can’t explain it, you are presumed to have obtained them illegally and the properties are taken off you and you are charged with a criminal offence.
“It’s an unexplained wealth law. For instance, have a man working at the public service to take five overseas trip a year, how does he afford to buy a new car, how does he afford to buy homes in Australia.
“If he can’t explain, then it is assumed he got them illegally.
“And that sort of law would force people to be accountable in this country. And it’s a pre-condition, I think for this country growing up, part of the development of Solomon Islands.”
BY ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN