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By Robert L. Iroga

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 7) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Derek Sikua’s new Government has virtually halved the number of political appointees and slashed the salaries for those it will appoint.

Political appointees of the previous Sogavare Government cost taxpayers more than SB$3 million [US$430,500] a year in salaries alone.

Some of these political appointees were alleged to have been paid more than the permanent secretaries running ministries.

Chairman of the Sikua Government’s caucus, Daniel Enele Kwanairara, said it has reduced the number of political appointees from 21 to 11.

"We will reduce their salaries," the Member of Parliament for North Malaita also said.

Mr Kwanairara said the list is to be finalised this week. But they have already agreed to have only 11.

He said the major cutback is part of a commitment the new Government has made to save money.

Whilst the number of political appointees will be reduced significantly, Mr Kwanairara has not revealed the government’s plan for its Permanent Secretaries.

However, he said there will be some permanent secretaries appointed to implement special projects.

One will be at the Department of Finance to oversee rehabilitation work in the tsunami-hit provinces of Western and Choiseul.

On backbenchers, Mr Kwanairara said most of them would be given chairmanship of State Owned Enterprises.

Government backbenchers include: Laurie Chan, Martin Sopage, Clay Forau, David Sitai, Bernard Ghiro, Trevor Olovae and Augustine Tenako, who has indicated his willingness to join the government.

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