This is a huge achievement and TSI applauds the Central Provincial Government. This should be an eye-opener for this nation, not only at the Provincial level but at the national level as well.
According to the recently released Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2020, Solomon Islands is ranked as a highly corrupted country, ranked at 78. Sadly, achieving a clean audit report (unqualified opinion) is a rarity and is seldom achieved by our public funded-local government and national government.
TSI is aware that the 2018/2019 financial year Isabel Province achieved a clean audit report and the recent report revealed shows that Central Province maintains its good record in achieving that status of a clean audit report for the 2019/2020 financial year.
TSI is aware that since the country gain independence, the national government nor its line ministries achieved anything such as a clean audit report or unqualified audit opinion for the last 40 years. Hence, the achievement by both Isabel Province (2018/2019) and now Central Province cannot be gone unnoticed and must be commended for the job well done.
What these provinces achieved defines good governance stemmed from transparency and accountability that TSI been advocating over the years. Central Province deserves respect and must be duly acknowledged for what it has achieved last year.
The Central Provincial Government proved beyond doubt that corruption can be eradicated despite the Solomon Islands being labeled as one of the highly corrupt countries in the pacific.
The national government must come up with incentives to reward provinces that perform extremely well in the spending of their budgets and successful implementations of their projects.
In order for other provinces to be motivated to maintain clean audit reports, there have to be some rewards either monetary or otherwise accorded to Provinces who have shown their capability to successfully comply with all requirements to manage and disburse funds.
An example could be the increase of funding for projects in provinces and assist the provincial government in building its capacity to deliver services and boosting good governance.
Provincial governments are giving this country hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all the critics on alleged corruptions and the national government’s failure to uphold transparency and accountability in its expenditures, the provinces are setting a good example.
Transparency Solomon Islands in its fight against corruption is pleased to see that some of our provincial governments are striving to achieve accountability and good governance, key areas TSI had been advocating for and continues to advocate for.
What Central Province achieves is exactly what TSI wants the national government to achieve. The national government must strive to achieve a clean audit report and there is no excuse it is difficult since Central Province and Isabel province has proved this achievable.
Transparency Solomon Islands understands that past Auditor General’s reports show common findings of widespread or significant non-compliance with Acts, legislations, relevant regulations and Financial Instructions/ policies, money being used for purposes other than those for which it has been provided for, financial and performance reporting is inadequate, there is serious breakdowns in financial management and accounting systems, there is a general lack of adequate and proper records maintenance, Officials using positions of influence to assist associates to receive benefits, millions of dollars of revenue being lost, officials acting outside authority or without proper authority, the existence of unauthorised Government accounts, poor asset management and procurement, lack of segregation of responsibility in key institutional functions and controls, poor management and control of contracts and management override of internal controls outlined in Financial Instructions and General Orders. These are some common findings throughout and this needs to be stopped in order for this country to improve on our score as shown in the Corruption Perception Index.
These common findings made it difficult for the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to trace the use of taxpayers’ money amounting to millions being thrown here and there without being accounted for.
Hundreds of millions spent by the national government were regarded as mal-function since they could not be traced to verify how it was spent for its intended purposes.
Millions disappeared into thin air. Government Ministries failed over the years to achieve anything such as clean audit reports or unqualified audit opinions, except for few provincial governments. Our CPI results for 2020 shows a highly corrupt public sector with a high occurrence of fraud, nepotism, false pretense, and deception.
TSI calls on the Executive Government to have the political will to combat corruption and change the status quo of this nation.
The auditor general report has all the hard evidence in it and one should not question corruption and its high prevalence in the national government.
Transparency Solomon Islands believe that in order for this nation to see more of such clean audit results, it is important that public officials must be motivated to perform their duties. Build an environment where public officials are discouraged from the mentality of “if the boss is benefiting from it, why not me” because this led to the common findings referred to in the findings of the OAG.
Given the history of this nation when it comes to achieving a clean audit report, (or the lack thereof) Transparency Solomon Islands would like to commend Central Province for showing this country that it can be done.
Provincial governments operated on very little funds but what they deliver touches the lives of people in the rural areas. The National Government and the Members of Parliament (MPs) access millions of dollars in funding towards national projects, constituencies, and funding intended for disasters such as covid-19 but there is nothing to be seen on the ground.
Some projects funded by government ministries set up in the rural areas stay idle and became the private property of some people instead of what it was intended for.
TSI visited various Provinces and one thing has been obvious, projects funded and implemented by the provincial government including classrooms, staff houses, clinics, provincial buildings, and offices were outstandingly impressive and a reflection of the provincial government's hard work with the limited funds they have.
Corruption is a virus affecting this country to the bones and the fight against corruption must be sustained through the adequate resourcing of our institutions of integrity to perform their duties.
We now also have the newly established Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC) in the effort to roll back corruption. These important institutions must be well resourced to do their duties if this country is serious about fighting corruption and making actual changes in this nation.