LOCAL ACADEMIC WARNED AGAINST POLITICIZING DISASTER

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka. Photo credit: Radio Australia.

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka. Photo credit: Radio Australia.

A local academic Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka says the loss of lives and properties from last week’s flash floods is heartbreaking.

Doctor Kabutaulaka says the economic impacts will soon be felt in the country’s coffers, and the social and psychological effects will loom in its citizen’s collective memories for many years to come.

However, Mr Tara warns against politicizing last week’s disaster.

Mr Tara says there is potential, intending candidates and sitting Members of Parliament, MPs to exploit people’s vulnerabilities and sufferings to score political points and harness advantage for the upcoming elections.

He says already, there are reports, some intending candidates have visited evacuation centers around Honiara and provided assistance only to those they think will vote for them in the upcoming elections.

Mr Tara adds, the Cabinet’s recent approval to release a total of 15 million to the 50 MPs is fishy.

This morning, amidst media reports and public concerns, the Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, clarifies in parliament that the 15 million was the first batch of Rural Constituency Development Funds, RCDF, for this year.

Mr Lilo also reiterated, NDC, is responsible for the coordination for disaster relief, and the government had allocated 5 million to the NDC.

However, Mr Tara says, there are concerns, the RCDF funds were released at this time when a lot of people are vulnerable and politicians could use it primarily to entice support for the upcoming elections.

He warns, the release of the RCDF could politicize the delivery of disaster relief, which would adversely affect the coordination of assistance and potentially confuse and affect the role of the NDC.

Mr Tara explains, any coordination of disaster relief should be done by the NDC, which was established and mandated by the National Disaster Council Act, 1989.

Meanwhile, Pressure group the Malaita Ma’asina Forum, MMF, says it is strongly objecting, the 3-hundred thousand dollars payout in the name of disaster to each member of parliament by the government.

The print media reports, Ministry of Finance was directed by the Office of the Prime Minister to release the funds as advance of ROC funds that will be paid to into accounts of the 50 constituencies.

But speaking to SIBC News, MMF President Charles Dausabea says they are objecting this move in the most strongest term, saying the government must do the right thing with the funds.

“We the Malaita Ma’asina Forum in the strongest term object this and we tell the government to do the right thing and not to use the suffering of our people for their enjoyment because it already indicates a lot of development funds never ended up with people but in the MP’s pockets, so Ma’asina Forum is out rightly rejecting this idea and call on the government and especially the Prime Minister and his cabinet to do the right thing.”

He says the money should be paid directly to the National Disaster Management Office, based on their assessment report on damages caused by the disaster, as some constituencies are not affected.

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