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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Solomon Government's much talked about BUA Policy at dead end due to budget dry up

The Bottom Up Approach (BUA), the flagship policy of the current Solomon Islands Grand Coalition for Change Government has hit a dead end, with little or nothing left in Government coffers to carry out the SBD$300 million per year program.

Senior government sources have confirmed the BUA budget has dried up.

There’s no money for BUA this year. In fact, the recent mini budget did not reflect the BUA at all, officials confirmed on the weekend.

We are working on a new package for the Bottom Up Approach. This will form part of the 2008 national budget to be debated in the November sitting of Parliament, one official said.

In a move to bolster its support for the Government, the Republic of China (Taiwan) is said to have informed the Government it would double its funding support for Constituency Development to SBD$2 million per Constituency from next year.

The ROC Embassy could not be contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, it is understood a recent shake-up within the Office of the Prime Minister was linked to the BUA fiasco. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is said to have been disappointed with the pace of implementation of much-talked about Bottom Up Approach.

To restore some confidence in his government’s ability to deliver on the BUA, Mr Sogavare has moved to replace a number of senior officials, including former cabinet Secretary, Dr John Roughan and former Chief of staff, Dr Judson Leafasia.

Dr Roughan now heads Constituency Development, while Dr Leafasia is the Permanent Secretary of the newly created Department of Constituency Development. Both men took up their new posts in recent weeks.

To keep the BUA alive, Office of the Prime Minister and the Department of Finance and Treasury are working frantically around the clock to see whether funds could be pull from other budget lines to keep BUA alive support system until the 2008 Budget is passed.

The government recruited some 50 officers for the Constituency Development program to carry out pre-funding assessments of projects in the Constituencies.

Their accommodation and related costs were paid for by the government. Indications that BUA’s funding has hit a snag came to light about a month ago when the government was having difficulties paying the salaries of the contracted CDO’s.

However, some CDO’s told their friends they could not face the constituents because no one in the government seems to know how much money has been earmarked for the Bottom Up Approach.

It is understood that only 27 per cent of donor funded projects in the Development Budget has been implemented this year. No project funded by the Government of Solomon Islands in the 2006 Development Budget have been touched.

Much of the blame for the snail-space implementation has been attributed to the high turnover of new permanent secretaries, the Grand Coalition for change Government hired when it took office almost two years ago.

Many simply do not know what to do. As a result, they spent a good part of the year trying to learn how to implement projects. Before they realize it, the year has disappeared, one senior politician said.

Source: PF Net

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