Thanks editor for publishing this contribution on RCDF and its relevance to tangible advancement and progress for our communities, constituencies and the entire nation.
Although I don't have absolute knowledge of the intricate details of conditions surrounding how and how not to utilize the funds provided under the name RCDF, I am confident of my knowledge of one thing - the RCDF needs absolute redefining. Why? It was evident in all the arguments expressed regarding the issue in this online forum. Most pressingly though is the evidence of the absence tangible improvement, progress and realization in development nationwide, which I believe the Funds are validly intended and allocated for.
I will not dwell on the 'use' or misuse' of the RCDF but rather ponder on the way forward to ensure that the RCDF serves its original good intentions in driving development in a progressive fashion for our people (as oppose to a get-rich quick scheme for MPs and their cronies).
An absolute redefinition of the RCDF purposes, disbursement channels, administrative and reporting requirements, appraisal & evaluation methods of its effectiveness and its achievements is crucial and necessary. The RCDF concept has been around for a number of years now but very little has been realized. Thus, something must be wrong with the system. With due respect to some MPs that have been active in pursuing development initiatives and interventions with their funds, majority of Solomon Islands still yet to realize any significant progress with RCDF.
Firstly, though it might not sound tuneful to some ears, one of the paramount considerations is to insulate the RCDF from any and every political influence may there be. If this means through legislation or regulations then so be it. With the current practice, it is apparent that the government 'gives with one hand and take aware with the other' - hence creating a case of 'they are better off - we (people) are worse off'. Alternative method to insulate from political influence is to channel the funds through an alternative means. The DBSI channel proved even more counter productive and thus a lesson to learn from for improvement in a newly defined channel.
Secondly, re-channeling the Funds would mean shifting the administrative and reporting roles.
But where should the new channel lead to and who should the roles shift to? A practical step forward in the direction of realizing tangible and progressive development is Parliament to legislate the setup of a National Constituency Development Authority. It might not be a new concept but one that has not been tried.
This National Constituency Development Authority would be furnished with all the 50 constituencies Development Plans for the 4-years term of Parliament. This body will coordinate with all other sectors and ministries in the implementation of the development priorities of a respective constituency or a group of closely knitted constituencies that would like to engage in regionalized approach to their infrastructure development plans.
Development funds for each constituency (whether its 4 million in lump sum or paid in tranches) will be channelled through and administered by the NCDA. Accountability and transparency requirements of the Development Authority will be contained it the legislation by which it is established.
How should drive such a change? Political parties contesting the general election could be a medium. However, pressure must come from the 'people' through submissions or discussion forums. I believe, our nation (the people) are at the cross roads of determining what is workable, achievable and effective for our future development and most importantly our forward progress. We cannot wait around to see if accountability builds itself back into the current processes.
RCDF could be replaced with a more practical name and course if we exert due pressure for an absolute redefining of it. Our 20th century development approaches had only realized uncoordinated and dumb growth. We should aspire to realize smart and coordinated development driven by tangible progress.
There might be other ideas which we could ponder to redefine the current RCDF processes.
RCDF - Needs Absolute Redefining
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Andrew and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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