Thank you for providing the platform to express my opinion on this issue.
When submitting application for funding, the applications had to fulfil certain criteria which are assessed based on a point scoring system. This is the normal way in which almost all organizations charged with managing such funds are administered and disbursed. In a system where the playing field is level or free from corruption, the application(s) which scores the highest points gets the funding. It is as simple as that. In the present case, the Minister's application (note I refer to the project being the Minister's based on the Biblical principle where when a man marries he becomes one with his wife) may well score among the highest point. However there is no way of knowing.
In which case, if it is indeed true that his project got among the highest point, then he is entitled to get the funding for the project. This how I see it is also the line of argument which he is using to justify his decision. But in the absence of an independent award committee his decision will always remain highly questionable no matter what line of argument he uses.
Making award decision based solely on technical set criteria is a good thing. And this is the role or purpose of the award committee, which includes looking at the viability of the applicant projects and make relevant award decision. In this case there is no technical award committee so there is no way of knowing whether his application does get among the highest score. In the absence of such a technical body, innie-minni-mannie-mo system becomes the default regime and this of course is bad for development and Solomon Islands in general. This is the core issue at the centre of all the noises which we are making in the media. In the absence of such a committee the practice of award by MPs will always be questionable and contentious. Thus for the purpose of transparency and good governance, it is imperative to transfer administration of such fund from MPs to the relevant competent authority. That after all is the view of the general public and is also the right thing to do.
On the other hand it would be wrong to exclude the Minister Hou from applying for the fund because this would be seen as penalizing success (the Minister is a highly successful person). Further it would also rob him of his right as a citizen to access public fund for developing his project and ultimately contributing to the country's development. However the small ask as pointed out in this article is for the applications to be screened on a level playing field by an independent competent body for the sake of transparency, equity and good governance.
Tourism Fund Award
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Ferral Lasi and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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