Monday, 4 February 2008 2:43 PM

RAMSI Says Report Fails to Understand Mission Mandate

RAMSI Acting Special Coordinator, Dr. Jonathan Austin, says a Centre for Independent Studies report on the economic development of Solomon Islands fails to understand RAMSI's role.

Dr. Austin said that RAMSI does not have a mandate to unilaterally address areas such as land ownership, health and education.

"RAMSI simply cannot, as the report suggests, make sweeping changes on its own and set government policy and priorities," Dr. Austin said.

Dr. Austin emphasized that RAMSI works in partnership with the government within the bounds of a strict mandate agreed to by the Government of Solomon Islands and the 15 other Pacific Islands Forum countries.

RAMSI's mandate is to: restore civil order; stabilise government finances; promote longer term economic recovery and rebuild the machinery of government.

"RAMSI's job is to provide advice, training and support to the government. This strengthens the sovereignty of the government by helping it to run the country on its own," Dr. Austin said.

Dr. Austin said that the major focus of RAMSI advisors is to train Solomon Islanders working within government to do their job better with the aim of better service delivery to people in rural areas.

In the last four years, more than 2,000 public servants have received training, 332 new police recruits have graduated from the Police Academy and the economy is growing at 6.1 per cent.

"Solomon Islands is now a nation better placed to set its own national priorities and tackle the development challenges - such as land ownership - and deliver sustainable improvements in people's lives," Dr. Austin said.

He said that while the report raises important issues, it has failed to recognize some of the achievements of Solomon Islanders and RAMSI advisors working together such as the rebuilding of Solomon Islands' road and bridge network and the restoration of the Office of the Auditor General which is now an effective watchdog on government expenditure.

Dr. Austin said he looked forward to working closely and constructively with the new Solomon Islands government for a peaceful, prosperous and well-governed Solomon Islands.

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