A FORMER parliamentarian has called for legislation to set up a Constituency Funding Commission (CFC) to handle the controversial funding grants to constituencies.
Alfred Sasako made the call in light of revelation that hundreds of millions of dollars had passed through the hands of politicians in the last four years with little or no impact at all in the rural areas.
“The time has come and is now to move the administration of these funds to an independent statutory body with specific guidelines on how public funds appropriated by Parliament for Constituency development should be used,” Mr Sasako said in a statement.
He said the rural people do not have an idea of the scale of funding that has gone into so-called micro-economic projects in rural Solomon Islands.
“They would be screaming if they knew,” Mr Sasako said.
“Worse still there is little if at all accountability for the use of public funds from the various grants that politicians received on behalf of the constituencies they represent in Parliament.
“To give you some idea here are some figures.
“It is estimated that $1.2 billion were shared by the 50 Constituencies in the last four years.
“This figure is based on retirement records by the Ministry of Rural Development which show annual allocation of six million dollars per constituency.
“In other words, the 50 Constituencies shared about $300 million in any given year in the last four years.
“Unfortunately there’s little or no acceptable form of accountability for the use of these funds,” Mr said.
He said many politicians have used these funds to victimise those who did not vote for them.
“It’s become a tool for marginalizing communities,” he said.
Mr said the only way to stop the rort is to enact legislation which would set up an independent statutory body to oversee the use of the constituency development grants.
“One of the many roles of a Constituency Funding Commission will be to receive, vet and approve project proposals from Constituencies.
“In the event of approval, the commission’s work would be extended to cover such areas as monitoring the progress as well as provide an audit of all projects,” he said.
“In this way accountability, transparency and equality are almost guaranteed.
“It will cost money to set up such a body but in my view it will be money well spent, because public funds will be used as intended and that its use would be properly accounted for,” Mr Sasako said.
He said politicians would benefit tremendously from the proposal because the undue pressure being exerted on them by constituents would be handled by an independent statutory body.
“I believe it will also streamline the process to the extent that only those with an acceptable level of education and are genuine about serving the nation would consider contesting in the national general elections.
“Today any tom, dick and harry wants to run for office. Unfortunately, many found their microphones have been out of action for quite some time.
“But I think the people who will benefit most from the work of such a commission are the 85 per cent of the population who live in rural Solomon Islands.”