Thursday, 22 January 2009 5:39 PM

Government Pays $19 Million for Fee Free Education Policy

The National Government this week has paid out $19 million dollars to school's around the country to kick start it's free fee education policy.

Deputy Prime Minister, Fred Fono, announced the mass payout on Wednesday in light of complains that some schools continue to charge fees when the 2009 academic year opened Monday this week.

Under the policy, the Government paid fees for students enrolled in class 1 to form three.

The policy was initiated by the ruling CNURA government in 2008 in an attempt to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of providing access to basic education to least developed countries.

A slight administrative delay in releasing funds to respective school accounts at the beginning of January has caused some confusion among schools.

Mr. Fono said Cabinet has recently approved a strict spending measure in the 2009 budget to ensure government priority policy areas are implemented.

One of the CNURA priority policies is to provide access to free basic education to children in the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the mass payout was made possible following a government decision to delay the payment of Rural Constituency Development Funds (RCDF) to the countries 50 constituencies.

Mr. Fono explained that government usually paid $1 million in RCDF to constituencies on quarterly basis with government revenue which will be refunded to the government treasury by the Republic of China (ROC).

"We decided to prioritize government spending on the implementation of priority policy areas," he said. "As a result, government will delay disbursement of RCDF to MPs in the first quarter of this year".

Meanwhile, Mr. Fono called for a nation-wide understanding by constituents (voters) to avoid exerting unnecessary pressure on MPs for RCDF.

He said MPs will not administer any RCDF until funds are released at a later date.

Mr. Fono encouraged constituents to remain patient while government sorts out its spending in light of the current global financial crisis, which also affects Solomon Islands.


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