By Gary Hatigeva
Now going into its campaign platform, the Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA) is looking to set a high priority on fighting corruption head on, and strengthen good governance.
SIPRA President and former Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo revealed this when launching his party’s manifesto on Wednesday, with six pillars being the key baselines for their campaigning.
“In that regard, it is now my pleasure to present and highlight to you the main pillars of our 2019 General Election Platform. Our 2019 campaign is based only on 6 main pillars. Clearly setting out these pillars is important for all of us,” Lilo stressed.
The former Gizo-Kolombangara MP explained that these pillars help his team focus, and that sometimes when there are so many agenda to pursue, one loses his way.
“But when there is only a handful of goals to chase, resources and attention are directed and better results are achieved. SIPRA’s number 1 pillar for 2019 National General Elections is “arresting corruption and strengthening good governance,” he said.
Lilo said SIPRA sees good governance, not just by the Solomon Islands Government (SIG), but by the provincial governments, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS), village leadership structures and church leadership structures as fundamental to moving forward from 2019 to 2023.
“Corruption in my view is one of the greatest plagues of the 21st century. It is as terrible as aids which ravaged humanity some years back, or climate change which continues to threaten human existence today.
“Corruption is one of the greatest modern epidemics. It must be exposed, punished and constantly kept in check,” he added.
He said the statistics has borne out the fact that countries that have transparent and clear rules regulating government behaviour and also clear enforcement regimes tend to perform better than countries that have unclear rules of government and where corruption is swept under the carpet.
“In the world of instant social media we see that happening right in front of our eyes. Today we see the once rich country of Venezuela starving for basic food.
“We have also seen similarly well to do countries in Africa gone down that pathway. Conversely, we see countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong who constantly perform high on the global good governance indices maintain very high standards of living.
“That is the nature of the beast we call government. Our country is no exception. If we work hard over the next four years to curb corruption and bring it under check we will see the country rise among the nations of the world,” the SIPRA President further stressed.
He said good government is an ideal desired my many leaders – past and present, and the question should be asked is what can be done about it.
He added that in more modern times we saw passage of legislation such as the Financial Management Act, Political Parties Integrity Act, Anti-Corruption Act, Whistle Blowers Act and similar legislation.
He further added that under this priority, SIPRA’s objective over the next four years is to strengthen the implementation of that legislation.
The former who will be re-contesting the Gizo-Kolombangara seat highlighted in line with what have been shared, at the top level of government, they are looking to review the MPs Tax Free status, the Constituency Development Act and regulations.
“We will also put a spotlight on government contracting at the level of the Permanent Secretaries, the various tender boards, and the level of directors and undersecretaries.
“We will also put the spotlight on the State Owned Enterprises to ensure that they do not simply waste valuable resources but produce the deliverables they state in their foundational documents. National resources must be applied to produce national benefits, not just benefit for a few well connected individuals or businesses,” Lilo told a packed SINU pavilion.
He then noted that in order to achieve the good governance proposal, his team is also looking to bring into being the Anti-corruption commission and the relevant bodies set up under the Anti-corruption Act.
“The relevant bodies will be independent. They will not be subject to political pressure of the government of the day.
We will ensure that the bodies set up under the various anti-corruption legislation will keep a check on corruption by private individuals, companies and entities.
“All public sector dealings will be under scrutiny by these agencies and the community at large.
“When government is transparent and accountable, we believe the community at large will reap many blessings. In the next four years, under a SIPRA government, its highest priority is to tackle corruption head on and to bring to account anyone that violates our standards against corruption.
“We will monitor our performance on the global good governance indices to ensure that we improve our performance over the next four years.
“Along with that we will also look at making the public service more efficient in its operations. We will review the recommendations that are already available and look at ways to implement these recommendations.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we must be able to put our house in order first before we try and address external matters. That will be the Number 1 priority of our government,” the former PM shared during his launch speech.