Thursday, 20 December 2007 9:54 AM

New Prime Minister Should Put A Stop to Expensive Political Advisers

Transparency Solomon Islands has called on the country's new Prime Minister to make sure no more public funds are wasted on the appointment of questionable political advisors.

The local anti-corruption watchdog, TSI, said millions of dollars have been wasted in recent years by successive governments on the payment of large salaries and other expensive benefits for dubious political advisers.

"A lot of these advisers' only qualifications have been that they are cronies, relatives, wantoks or drinking mates of politicians," the chair of TSI, Bob Pollard, said today.

Mr. Pollard said that many of them appeared to have been given the job in return for past or future favours.

"They have not really had any useful input into any development policies, or practical programmes of benefit to the people of Solomon Islands."

He said many of these advisors had greatly weakened the transparency and accountability of government operations.

"They have interfered with the responsibilities of appointed Ministers and Permanent Secretaries, confused and slowed down the general business of government in providing services to the people," he said.

TSI said the practice of appointing political advisers began when [the late] Solomon Mamaloni was Prime Minister, and has been carried on and extended by recent administrations.

"But it has been under the Sogavare Government that the worst excesses so far have occurred."

TSI said the current change of government provides an excellent opportunity to cut this costly, unnecessary and highly inefficient part of government down to size.

"We acknowledge that there is a place for political appointees but believe that it has gone way too far."

If the new government cuts out all crony-advisors, then permanent secretaries would be able to get on with their jobs, creating sound working relationships in executing the policy of their Minister and the Government of the day without unnecessary political interference.

Several million dollars could also be saved between now and the end of 2009 that could be applied to the provision of textbooks in schools and medical supplies in rural clinics, TSI said.

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