The newly-elected PM Rick Hou pledges to implement ACB as a matter of priority
By DELI OSO
THE newly elected Prime Minister Rick Hou has assured the nation upon his election to the top political post yesterday that his coalition government will deliver the much awaited Anti-Corruption Bill.
The Member of Parliament for Small Malaita made the assurance in his inaugural speech on the eastern doorsteps of Parliament yesterday immediately after the Acting Governor General Ajilon Nasiu declared and welcomed him as the new Prime Minister.
“Good citizens, I am fully aware of the demand by the people of this country to see the passage of the Anti-Corruption Bill.
“Corruption has caused inefficiencies in operations, it has undermined public trust in government, and it has exhausted public resources and money as well as causing injustice through advantaging a few at the expense of many.
“It has robbed vital resources from our schools and hospitals.
“I assure this nation that my administration will deliver this important legislation and we are committed in ensuring its implementation before the end of the 10th Parliament,” Mr Hou said with an air of determination.
The new Prime Minister said other immediate priorities of his government are addressing the government’s ‘ailing’ financial situation and completing the national undersea cable project.
“An important objective of the government is to stabilise our ailing fiscal situation. It is my government’s immediate priority to immediately address the cash-flow situation.
“My government will ensure there is fiscal discipline across government sectors and to assist line ministries to execute their respective budgets more efficiently, effectively and responsibility.
“I assure you that my officials have already identified key areas in the productive, social and resource sectors that my Government will prioritise as our immediate short term plan.”
Mr Hou added that given the limited timeframe, his government will prioritise achievable, identified infrastructure projects only.
“We will accelerate necessary work to fast track those infrastructure projects that are crucial to quickly resuscitate government finances and the economy more broadly.
“It is important to prioritise and invest in Infrastructure development that will provide opportunities for growth in the rural sector.”
Underscoring the Undersea Cable Project, Mr Hou said:
“The submarine cable is also one of the immediate priorities of my government.
“I am aware new arrangements have been re-negotiated with Australia. This project is crucial to reducing telecommunication costs so the new Government will see to its completion without any further delay.”
The new Prime Minister said an Immediate Strategy entailing a set of priorities of his government for its short-term in office will be put in place.
“The strategy is to continue with the projects and programs of the previous DCCG with increased level of policy implementation aimed to stabilise the fiscal situation, strengthen budget implementation and ensure we achieve tangible results in the short term.”
Prime Minister Hou also took the opportunity to assure Solomon Islands development partners of his government’s readiness to re-engage with them in advancing the country’s interest.
“For too long, we have left our development partners in the cold which has negatively affected the progress of important Government programmes.
“But today, I assure you that my government will take extra efforts in working closely with each and every one of our partners as we work towards our common goal to move this country forward. On that note, I would also like to thank our developing partners for their continuous support.”
On that note, he acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the former Finance Minister John Maneniaru in renewing dialogue between the government and donor partners.
The Acting Governor General when announcing the results of the Prime Minister’s election declared that Mr Hou secured the Prime Minister from the Opposition and Independent candidate John Moffat Fugui with 33 votes. Mr Fugui received 16 votes. Solomon Star understands one vote was spoilt.
The new Prime Minister was sworn into office a few hours after his election victory by the Acting Governor General Mr Nasiu in the presence of MPs of the government camp.
Mr Hou had served as Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands and also as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the World Bank before beginning his political career after winning the national general elections in 2010.
He is the country’s 17th Prime Minister since it attained nationhood on the 7th of July 1978.
The Prime Minister’s election yesterday was necessitated by the successful moving of a motion of no-confidence in former Prime Minister Sogavare on Monday last week by the Independent Group Leader Dr Derek Sikua.