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Social and Economic Reform to receive $583,000 per year

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 25, 2010) – In the Solomon Islands, the Opposition has called on the Government to reconsider a hefty budget submission for the newly established Bureau of Social and Economic Reform which will cost the state a total of SB$4,838,479.15 [US$583,000] per annum.

The bureau is part of the political office in the Prime Minister’s Office and it consists of a Permanent Secretary, eight directors and four administration staff.

Opposition Leader, Steve Abana said the Opposition had obtained a copy of the budget submission and was dumbfounded by the salary and fringe benefits for the 13 officers in the bureau alone.

He said this budget submission of $4,838,479.15 [US$583,000] excludes the salary and fringe benefits for the Prime Minister’s Special Secretary, Private Secretary, Press Secretary and the Executive Secretary of Government Caucus, all of whom will be paid a salary at the public service super scale level.

The Opposition Leader said the budget submission for the Bureau of Social and Economic Reform alone is equivalent to the budget for the entire political office in the Prime Minister’s Office during the reign of both the Coalition for National Unity and Rural Advancement (CNURA) and Grand Coalition for Change Government (GCCG) governments and it brings to question the seriousness of the National Coalition for Reform and Advancement (NCRA) Government to reform.

Mr. Abana said the NCRA Government had boastfully announced to reduce expenditures for political appointees soon after assuming office in August but the opposite is happening.

He said it seems the Danny Phillip-led government became intoxicated with power and worst still it seems to be far from sober yet to realize the havoc it is causing to the state coffers.

Mr. Abana said it is in the best interest of the nation that the government reconsiders the hefty budget submission with the view of reducing it to a level considerate of the government’s financial affordability.

The Deputy Opposition Leader said the country’s taxpayers and aid donors are watching the NCRA Government’s reckless handling of state finances with grave concern.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abana has renewed the Opposition’s call on the NCRA Government to provide the breakdown of its $1,103,742 [US$133,000] bill with the Pacific Casino Hotel and Honiara Hotel for the lobbying period.

He said the direct payment of the total bill to the two hotels without verification of the costs factored in it by the National Parliament Office is nonprocedural and indeed sinister.

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