WHILE the Government stated that the 2021 Budget underpins the so-called ‘policy redirection’ and government priorities for 2021 the Leader of the Independent Group of the Parliament said it is still not clear.
In his debate on the ‘2021 Budget’ Independent Leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for North New Georgia Constituency John Dean Kuku questioned what are we talking about in this budget, is it policy redirection or redirection policy or a combination of the two?
“In conceptualizing the budget properly, my approach has been to deconstruct what has been said from the Speech from the Throne, the speech by the Minister of Finance and Treasury and the Policy Redirection document,” he added.
Kuku said these speeches were quite telling in that the ‘policy redirection’ document was often referred to as the ‘Redirection policy’ and on numerous occasions, it was either read from back to front and then from front to back again.
“Mr. Speaker Sir, on page 1 of his budget speech, the Minister said… ‘this budget launches the process of implementing the Government’s ‘Redirection Policy’ program..’
“On page 15, the Minister said ‘…. Governments ‘Policy Redirection’ is to prioritize budget spending on specific targeted objectives in all sectors, with a specific focus on the productive and resource sectors’.
“He continued to say, ‘…government had decided to redirect its policy after thoroughly reflecting on our past drawbacks…’
“On page 18, the Minister said… ‘The DCGA ‘Policy Redirection’ is also committed to redirecting resources towards the productive and resources sectors…’ whilst on page 26 the Minister said…. ‘The DCGA Redirection Policy budget allocations towards the resource sectors has been increased…,” Kuku highlighted.
He further highlights that in his address from the Throne on the 15th March 2021, his Excellency quoted a statement by the Prime Minister on the ‘Redirection Policy’.
Kuku said that ‘Policy Redirection’ and ‘Redirection Policy’ are two different matters and concepts.
He then explained that ‘Policy Redirection’ refers to the prioritization of EXISTING POLICIES and allocating sufficient funds to meet those priorities.
“Example the prioritization of adequate resources to the productive and resource sectors. Policy Redirection is about making choices.
“In doing so, you would have eliminated the choices that are difficult to implement in which the government will redirect its resources,” he added.
Redirection Policy, Kuku refers to the CREATION OF NEW POLICIES, which when implemented, will have major impacts on the economy in key selected areas, for example the response to Covid 19 pandemic and the Economic Stimulus Package.
“In case of infrastructure development pertaining to the 2023 Pacific Games, I had expected the redirection policy will ensure that there is a quota in place to ensure that Solomon Islanders take a significant pie of the construction work.
“In forestry, I had expected a redirection policy that seeks to ensure the export of more value-added timber products.
“With Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI), I expected to see that it genuinely targets the productive sector in ways that make it not appear to be a scheme for refinancing of bad loans,” Kuku expressed.
He emphasised on the floor of the Parliament that here lies the inconsistency and confusion.
“The executive now has the solemn duty to lead our nation and to now ensure that the Budget is implemented transparently.
“In this regard, I call on all ministers to help the prime minister achieve our goals for 2021. We only have 7 months to achieve the desired outcomes of this policy redirection and or redirection policy,” he said in support of the 2021 Budget.
The debate on the 2021 Appropriation Bill 2021 will continue before its 3rd reading.
By ANDREW FANASIA