NGOs object Government’s plan to extend life of parliament
Development Services Exchange (DSE) strongly opposed the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement’s (DCGA) proposal for the extension of parliament term from four to five years in-order to accommodate the South Pacific Games.
In a statement this morning, the national NGO umbrella body in the Solomon Islands reiterated the call by other institutions and the general public for no extension of the parliament term.
“In a meeting DSE organised for NGOs last Friday it heard NGOs question the Government’s credibility on its mandated obligation in the National General Election democratic process. NGOs stated the reasons recently made by the government for the extension of parliament for Pacific Games 2023 (PG2023) are not grounded in the best interest of our Solomon Islands people and communities.
“The National General Elections is mandated by law to be conducted every four years so for Government to claim that resources and logistics would be stretched if two major events are going to be held the same year then the PG 2023 should not be used to compromise the right of Solomon Islanders to exercise their vote,” it says.
DSE affirms that the Covid-19 came in 2020 and preparations for PG2023 has started some two to three years already, therefore the Government should already have plans in place to deal with its national obligations without amending laws and policies to suite their own interests in such a short period of time with no proper consultation.
It says the inability of Government to use its power and influence to secure a priority budget for 2023 National General Elections speaks volume of the credibility of Government to run a Country with the best interest of the people in time of multiple crisis.
“The government has proposed a four billion dollar budget for 2022 especially on the redirection policy for health and economic recovery, yet the government still claims no resources over a billion dollar budget should there be a NGE,” the statement said.
DSE believed that the Government had not explored all avenues because key strategic partners and stakeholders like Civil Society Organisations and communities have not been consulted nor invited to make submissions before a decision is made on the extension of the Parliament’s term.
It adds, the DCGA Government should be obliged to inform the citizens of Solomon Islands with a comparative analysis of what economic benefits the PG2023 will bring to the ordinary citizens of the country the plan to go ahead or postponed to a later date.
“Does the PG2023 employment opportunities, accommodation, catering businesses trickles down to the rural areas and can it be sustained after the two weeks of activities? Does the PG2023 provides some economic benefits to the rural populace in terms of boat hiring, accommodations, petrol depots, canteens, women with their food markets reaching out to the farthest and isolated parts of the country as far as Tikopia, Shortland to Lord Howe atolls,” it questions.
DSE is concern that [we] might be seeing a same repeat of the much talked about Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) where people were promised of thousand dollar projects but only received few hundreds or even nothing in the end.
The Government should question the credibility of their action as to who are the beneficiaries of the PG2023 shorter and longer term if they still are continuing to pursue the proposal for Parliament term extension.
The question of economic benefits and as well the security risk implications this will have on the country must not be taken lightly given the situation our country is experiencing. DSE is calling on the government to weigh the cost of such a decision. Importantly consult the people who vote you in parliament before making a decision which will go against their wish.
Development Services Exchange (DSE) is the NGO coordinating body in Solomon Islands.