02 April 2020
Part of the packed crowd that turned up at the SMI grounds on Wednesday.

NPF should have done better, say members


THE Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (NPF) has not responded to heavy public criticisms of its handling of the coronavirus emergency payout to members.

The fund started dishing out applications, Wednesday.

But the large crowd that turned up and congregated at the fund’s Town Ground property to collect application forms provided the right recipe for the coronavirus to spread.

“NPF could have done better than this,” former top public servant and economist George Kosui told the Solomon Star.

“Seeing this large crowd waiting for hours to be served was really, really sad,” Kosui added.

“There are many ways NPF could do to avoid such a big crowd and at the same time facilitate the emergency pay-outs.”

Reports suggest members started queuing up outside the Town Ground property as early as 5 am.

Social media was awash with criticisms of how the fund has been administrating the process.

Some say with the recent completion of the submarine cable, NPF should develop a quick App where members can just use to fill in their details.

“We are already on the submarine cable era but we are still way back.  Almost 95% of those lining up have access to the internet on their mobile phones. 

“Try and develop something that will ensure social distancing is practised,” a commentator Boli John stated on one of the local Facebook forums.

Commenting on the same forum, William Abuinao said receiving application forms should not be a problem if NPF provides certain locations to avoid such overcrowding.

“Receiving application I think is easy. 

“Why can't NPF staff receive an application at multiple locations e.g. Panatina campus or KGVI school in East Honiara, Honiara High or Multipurpose and SMI in central and then White River School and Police club in West Honiara?” he asked.

NPF has not responded to emails and phone calls sent to them for comments.

Its communication officer Elliot Dawea said the NPF management has no comments to make at this stage.

On Monday, NPF said in a statement they will be observing strictly the COVID-19 advice and the Prime Minister’s order on social distancing and minimising of large public gathering.

It said during the process, it will only be accepting 50 members at a time into the Town Ground property and serve five members at a time.

But while the procedure may work inside the property, the large crowd waiting outside for their turn defeats the whole purpose of social distancing.