Dear Editor – Solomon Islands must be congratulated for having recently appointed a new CEO, who despite his very short period of time in the country, has displayed an air of superman, and knew more about it than those who have lived here for most of their lives.
Most recently he has involved SIPA into importation of certain manufacture goods into the country, such as rice and other similar things. Could he be the savior, that Solomon Islands has been waiting for, or not? Think and meditate about it!
Even for those who have lived in Solomon Islands for so long, it would not hurt to refresh their minds, lest they be drowsy and asleep. SIPA, SIWA and SIEA, previously these were all parts of government departments.
That means they were all inclusive of the sovereign functions of the state, mainly because of the special functions these have on the overall social services of the country. These are sensitive as well as balancing forces in the economic developments of the country; mismanage management of these bear directly on the heads of the people: to a much greater degree, than anyone might imagine!
For the reasons given above and there are many more; all these organizations were so divested from the government administration; instead, each one was mandated by the various laws by which they were each established. Nevertheless the government still has concerns over these as to matters of their general operations rather than specific issues. In consideration therefore, and in that context, government must be satisfied with the services these statute bodies are providing and at the prices affordable by the people.
And the laws which have established these bodies provided where any services they operate cannot be provided at prices affordable by the people, without incurring losses themselves, government may be requested to subsidies such loss.
While on the surface, it is the government that provides the subsidy; but in reality, it is the people of Solomon Islands who are proving the subsidy: it is their money that the government is giving away, of course, on their behalf. For the sake of efficient and effective services, but not for squandering!
Back to SIPA, reading from the surface of things, the impressions gained is that the newly installed CEO and his board are fully satisfied that the obligations imposed on them by their law are fully met and completed, hence the reasons why they are now looking for new areas of investments.
Sometimes ago the government on behalf of SIPA, has secured a huge loan from ADB, for ports development in the country. One assumes, these loans have been fully repaid by SIPA, and they, at present are having huge surplus of money, lying idle in their pockets, which they are begging to throw away at anything and at anybody.
But such ping pong playing with money by SIPA, would seem contrary to one of the fundamental aims of the government, and indeed all other such bodies, in establishing it in the first place. In that, it is the desires of the government, acting on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands; if SIPA or other similar organization turn out profits in their operations; these are to be handed over into the consolidated funds for public services such as schools, hospitals and clinics which the people badly need.
These statutory bodies are not private companies which operate for the benefit of their shareholders; instead, on the other hand, these function and operate for the benefit of the people: that’s the bottom line.
SIPA, venturing to invest in aviation, is a most dangerous thing indeed, for the people of Solomon Islands. The people of Solomon Islands have already invested heavily in this sector by way of Solomon Airlines; this is their company. Maybe the board of SIPA, and its energetic CEO, probably don’t know this; both having recently arrived at the scene; should they be excused? I don’t think so!
The people should not be forced to invest all their savings in one portfolio if SIPA is serious enough into strengthening the economic participation of Solomon Islands, why should it not look at its own portfolio?
There is great need for Solomon Islands to operate its own overseas shipping line services; to take our flag, a sign of our sovereignty, into other distant lands! As to SIPA, having involved itself with other private companies for the importation of rice and other such consumable goods: this is degrading the dignity and sovereignty of Solomon Islands, below that which is permitted in all sovereign nations of the world!
Private companies are animals of a world of their own, who make their own rules and employ anyone they please, some of whose conducts or characters may not be suitable for government services. In other words government observed certain minimum standards of conducts and behaviours reflective of the status and dignity of their states.
That is normally they play games, preferably with those of a kind who are also guardiance and defenders of other sovereignties. Dealing with private companies also entails financial obligations which the private sector is well suited to do, instead of the government; who is yet at this time; still has its own sovereign programmes to do.
One other area that is still for consideration, if SIPA is energetic, is the management of Solomon islands Air space. At present this is contracted out, because the country does not have the capacity to manage it. These are both important areas which SIPA, should consider; also both of these are very strategic for the overall wellbeing of the country.
Leonard P. Maenu’u