IN this week’s piece, which will be the first of two articles on the topic, expression of gratitude is conveyed to the current Chairman and board members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Health and Welfare Scheme (RSIPHS), the ‘Scheme’, for succeeding another milestone.
Renamed in 2008 the, “Solomon Islands Police and Prison Services Health and Retirement Scheme (SIPPSHRS)” to incorporate Correctional Services, the ‘Scheme’ has evolved from an informal selfsustaining micro-insurance concept since early days to its current fully fledged—tried, tested, and proven—viable financialmodel that will turn twenty years old in October.
The enormous effort to elevate financial inclusion by various directorships, all of whom sort the common goal of addressing officers welfare and wellbeing—both on and off duty—deserves commendation.
But the going has been anything except sweet marching!
The success of the Scheme’s 20-year milestone this year coincides with CBSI’s (Central Bank of Solomon Islands) informative stakeholders’ workshop held a few months earlier giving emphasis to micro-insurance under the broader financial inclusion description.
Merits of the Scheme as a project vital to Solomon Islands’ Police officers and their dependants, to improve social and economic growth, and to satisfy aspirations for welfare development has simply been overwhelming.
As founding architect of this initiative, which took its formal blessings from SPOA (Subordinate Police Officers Association) then, courtesy and provision of the Police Act 1972, I have been privileged to work with some of RSIPF’s very best since the Scheme’s humble beginnings in 1996 to present day undertakings especially through numerous challenges.
But first, it would be unjust of me not to afford acknowledgement which has been long overdue to the former Commissioner of Police, the late Morton David Sireheti, who was the Scheme’s Chairman in 1996.
There is a debt of gratitude also owing to the first board of directors: Solomon Auga, Richard Hane, Rita Bennett, Nelson Waiwori, Donald Marehasi.
Special thanks also to Johnson Siapu who was instrumental for setting up the group life policy with Blue Shield Insurance in 1990.
But it was under the leadership excellence and courage of late Siriheti and of his board of directors that, the birthing of the RSIPHS as an in-house micro-insurance scheme and financial model for Police officers was ceremoniously endorsed.
The Scheme began its journey merely as a group policy holder in 1990 with Wantok Life Insurance carrying a $20,000 death benefit and medical assurance package.
Life and medical cover policy was then transfered to insurer, Blue Shield (Solomons) Insurance Ltd in 1991.
The demise of Blue Shield as a result of shareholder’s poor management that led to insolvency and bankruptcy issues in 1995, left the Scheme’s group policy in strife on the one hand, but by the same token, the insurer’s illfate was viewed a blessing in disguise allowing for the birthing of the independent RSIPF Scheme a year later.
Inclusion of officers from Prison/Correctional Services boosted the Scheme’s membership numbers and formed a stronger alliance between the two organisations.
Initially, benefits under the Scheme held indemnity for officer, spouse and dependants. These benefits were not usually covered by government’s welfare package to public servants hence the necessity for indemnity under private initiative.
The Scheme extended its cover to include medical evacuation with a two-bed allocation at the St Vincent’s Hospital facilitated in 1997 by Solomon Islands Consul H.E Trevor Garland.
Details pertaining the two-bed allocation is expected to be reviewed for fresh consultations with the Hospital later this year.
In a new effort to revamp the Scheme’s usefulness to its members, Police and Correctional officers and their dependants are likely to see improvements to their benefits within the next three months.
Indeed, much work is still to be done to which board of directors pledge to maintain good work-in-progress ethics as it is quite clear one cannot rest on one’s alurels..
To confirm this, recently the board resolved (by resolution) to temporarily cease all its administrative operations for a period in order to review important undertakings for that timeframe.
Substantial outstanding issues pertaining to review of procedures, policy and constitution; reassessment of withdrawals, retirement issues; and ccompletion of financial statements were notable components of the resolution.
A serious and productive review of the entire model is planned and findings will be implemented over the next three years of operations.
It is anticipated, that as a result of revising (improving) the model based on lessons gained, members and their dependants will benefit more from contributions in future.
Further, the Scheme is expected to work closely with the Police Commisioner’s office, government, members of Parliament, CBSI, St. Vincent’s Hospital in Australia, along with a whole group of friends from the insurance industry, sister organisations, and donor parties.
Review is paramount at this stage. The objective being economic, social, financial improvement in the lives of Solomon Islanders who strive daily to defend and maintain security of the nation.
The Scheme is long overdue for some genuine, friendly advise and wholehearted support.
Congratulations to all those who have contributed in the Scheme’s 20-year success.
(Next week we will look at how the Scheme has benefited Police officers; what is the future like – improved, better and effective services with new financial and management controls put in place).
* Touch of the keys is a weekly column by Aggie Podarua—founder of Solomon Islands Development Alliance initiative (SIDA) and Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA)