I like the analogy given by Sina Adrian regarding the wheel chair syndrome. I think it truly exemplifies the style of governance experienced in the Solomon Islands over the past 30 years. Our country's dependency on aid money over the years means that all development activities in the SI have been driven by aid money. These aid donors often have their own priorities of how the money they donate should be used. In essence this means that the Solomon Islands government will have to spend the money according to aid donors' priorities because the government will have to account for any money they use, in order for further financial assistance to be granted. Given this context, the Solomon Island government has been pushed around in a "wheel chair" by NZ, Australia, Taiwan and EU, as far as socio-economic development is concerned. When will SI ever get to drive its own socio-economic development, or push its own "wheel chair?".
People are now beginning to question the sustainability of some of the aid funded projects in our country. For instance, in the education sector questions have been raised as to how major education reform projects could be sustained if major aid donors to our education system, such as NZAid, decide to discontinue their financial support within the next five years. Such questions only depict SI vulnerability to aid money or dependency on aid for its development. How many aid funded projects have failed over the years due to discontinuation of funds by aid donors? Why can't the government or the people see the need to continue these projects?
I agree with Adrian that Solomon Islands have the potential of overcoming this wheelchair syndrome. This can be achieved if we have leaders who, not only have the vision and mission to serve the people, but involve people in the governance of their affairs by empowering them to utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner that would benefit their families, communities and the nation as a whole.
The Wheel Chair Syndrome
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Patricia Rodi and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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