Wednesday, 28 January 2009 11:33 AM

Government Taskforce to Fight Against Corruption

The CNURA government is setting up a Special Taskforce on Corruption with the view to advising and helping the Government develop a policy paper on how to fight against corruption in Solomon Islands.

"The Taskforce has been endorsed by Cabinet in a paper introduced early this month by the Prime Minister Dr. Derek Sikua," the Special Secretary to the Prime Minister, John Keniapisia, told National Express in an exclusive interview.

The Taskforce is being co-chaired by Mr. Keniapisia with the Auditor General (Ag), Eric Muir, while other members are drawn from inter governmental departments, the private sector, and civil society groups.

Mr. Keniapisia said that the membership of the Special Corruption Taskforce include representation from: -
. The Attorney General's Chambers;
. Director of Public Prosecutions;
. The Accountant General;
. Ombudsman;
. The Leadership Code Commission;
. The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
. The Public Service;
. Transparency Solomon Islands; and,
. The Law Reform Commission.

Mr. Keniapisia said the main objective of the Taskforce is to assist the Government in its desire to develop an Anti-Corruption Policy designed to help the country fight against corruption.

Cabinet has given the Taskforce a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months to report back to the Government.

He said that the Taskforce would soon be formulating and embarking on a work program that would also include consultation with stakeholders and undertaking research on the development and design of an Anti-Corruption policy.

"Our primary objective given the nature and urgency of the task is to execute our work plan activities and programs and at achieving its objective in the shortest time possible," Mr. Keniapisia said.

He added that the Government has been compelled to move in this direction having recognized the urgency of the need to do something about the obvious widespread nature of corruption in Solomon Islands.

Mr. Keniapisia said that corruption is believed to have affected nearly all public institutions and almost all sectors of society "to the extent that we are being regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world".

He said that as an example, the special audits carried out by the Office of the Auditor General for the period 2001 to 2004 has shown that up to $433 million of public funds had not been accounted for during that period.

"This was particularly so in the most important economic sectors of the economy such as in the lands, forestry and fisheries sectors."

The SSPM added that Solomon Islanders are fully aware of this destructive trend, reflected in the fact that 81% percent of Solomon Islanders surveyed for RAMSI in 2008 said there was dishonest behaviour [and] misuse of power among senior people in their community.

The SSPM said that the Prime Minister Dr. Sikua and his Government wants to see corruption minimized and eradicated as promised by the Prime Minister in his maiden speech in January 2008.

Addressing the nation immediately after becoming Prime Minister, Dr. Sikua told the nation that it is his intention that his CNURA Government would pursue good governance legislative reforms during its tenure in Office.


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