The ensuring response from the public, politicians and business owners, and a call on TSI to be thorough in its investigations, media article this week (Solomon Star Monday 11th July 2016) on allegations levelled at our judiciary system on revenue loss due to court delays is clearly an understatement of the need for an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
An Independent well-resourced Commission Against Corruption when established will be the right institution to receive complaints and investigate allegations.
The many issues raised with Transparency Solomon Islands clearly belongs to a dedicated legislated Institution that is mandated to receive complains, investigate, clear those that are not corrupt, and hold those who abuse and misuse entrusted power accountable.
The shipping grant, the CDF, the Scholarships, Land acquisitions, Courts, Ministries, the Sports Organisations, the private sector genuine investors, the tendering and awarding of contracts complaints are just but a tip of the iceberg of the complains both written and verbal that have been raised with Transparency Solomon Islands. What these indicate is a rise in corrupt practices and conduct and it is in millions.
In the forestry sector allegations of corruption is in every aspect of this industry and the slowness in the manner in which courts deal with cases calls for an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
It is not uncommon that by the time the true landowners win their case, the forest is gone, money gone and more sadly the government has made millions of dollars out of illegal logging proceeds with no regards at all for the resource owners, nor pay them back for money raised from illegally logging of their forests damage etc. It turns a blind eye to the plight of its citizen as they struggle for justice through the courts.
For awhile now Transparency Solomon Islands amongst others has received various complains with regard to road work contract awards and a plea to make public what they see happening in the awarding of contracts and the ensuing implementation of it. A careful study and analysis of the information provided indicates the following allegations:
- Similar to the allegations that we have been receiving in regards to the forestry sector, the lands etc., the processes in place from tendering to final inspection of works have been corrupted or tempered with.
- No performance assessment is done on quality of work done and same companies who did not do a good job keep getting the contract. Further awarding of contracts is not based on performance.
- A road that is 10 km for example is awarded to someone who bid lower than the other bidders whilst someone who bid for a shorter road gets the award for an amount higher than that of the 10 km road.
- Government spends a lot of money on several variations, something that could have been avoided had they considered the bidder who bid at the right amount.
- Inside trading whereby those companies or persons who are alleged have connection with the MID staffs are given prior information about the amounts to tender for.
- Companies who win the tender do not employ experience and qualified people for the work, thus potholes next day after being fixed the previous day.
- Scope of work was alleged to not have been clearly specified, if specified there would be no need for variations after variations.
- Need for MID to publish the list of winning bidders, amount paid for work done on what road. General information on roads, winning companies and estimated cost of work to be done.
With a dedicated institution, an examination of payments and all the processes therein in the awarding of tenders can tell us what is going on or if there is any corrupt practices.
The list of allegations goes on and in a number of sectors including the road works. These are but allegations only and tarnish the image of the Ministry and its staff and the trust and confidence that people should have in government and the government machinery.
Transparency Solomon Islands, believes that the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate these allegations like we said in our article of the 17th June, and our 7th July article last week, can build back trust in our systems, our officials and government.
Transparency Solomon Islands commends the Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Soqavare, and his DCC government, Hon Jeremiah Manele the Official Opposition Leader and Dr. Derek Sikua Leader of Independent Group in acknowledging, recognising and agreeing that corruption, corrupt conduct and corrupt practices needs to be addressed now if we really care about the peaceful, fair and sustainable development of Solomon Islands.
There is therefore no reason whatsoever to object to the establishment of the ICAC currently planned and proposed by PM Sogavare and the DCC Government.
The country has long needed effective institutions to fight official corruption, and the draft laws now waiting for parliamentary process have been carefully designed to do that, through a detailed process of local and external collaboration in the drafting.
We urge the government to take courage and enact the Anti-corruption Bill. The country needs to know where our leaders stand on this. Solomon Islands, its laws, policies etc should not be for a few privileged ones [leaders or otherwise] through corrupt practice and conduct. It should be for the people of Solomon Islands.
Transparency Solomon Islands would like to hear your views on this. Call us on ph: 677 28319.