Solomons PM Set To Appoint Department Heads

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Four PhD holders to lead various reform departments

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 5, 2015) – Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare is poised to name his government’s political appointees in coming days.

Well-placed government insiders told the Sunday Star four local PhDs holders have been slated to head four newly created departments within political office of the Prime Minister.

The four departments are Fundamental Reform, Productive Sector Reform, Resource Sector Reform and Social Sector Reform.

Insiders say those earmarked to head the departments are Dr Morgan Wairiu, Dr Melchoir Mataki, Dr Christopher Vehe, and Dr Philip Tagini.

Wairiu is a former permanent secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Mataki is the current permanent secretary of Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disater Management, Conservation & Meteorology, Vehe is adviser to the Metapona Downstream Landowners Association, while Tagini is former special secretary to Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo.

This comes as Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare moves to bring the much needed change for the country through sound policies.

An insider said these names have already been submitted by new Special Secretary to PM, Rence Sore, to the Government Caucus, which will meet this week to formalise the appointments.

Sore was appointed to his new job before New Year.

"Caucus will have their meeting on Monday and is likely to approve their names," he said.

The insider said the Chief of Staff, which is the highest post in the PMO’s political office, is still to be filled up.

"The prime minister is still to come up with a name for this post," the insider said.

However, appointments of the PhD holders are not likely to go down well with the United Democratic Party and Kadere Party, who made up the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) government.

This is because none of these appointees are associates of their parties.

Sogavare had earlier said political jobs in the Prime Minister’s Private and Political Office will be given only to the "right people".

He stated this, following concerns raised in the media that political appointments have not only been costly to the taxpayers, but have been irritants because they have been awarded with lucrative pay packages.

Sogavare said his Democratic Coalition for Change Government will ensure right people are engaged as political appointees.

He said political appointees are the engines to drive governments to achieve policies and deliver election promises.

But he said if they are only to push papers around, then they should not be engaged at all.

In 2005, the Prime Minister’s Private and Political Office was created to engage temporary workers to drive policies, give expert advice on issues of importance to the Prime Minister – thus his government and the country and more importantly to offer ears and eyes to the Prime Minister to guide his leadership.

Other important considerations were he (PM) governed in an accountable and transparent manner.

It was discovered then that public servants were not to be given tasks that were political in nature - thus the need to engage political supporters.

The Sunday Star understands other political appointments will be advertised through the Public Service Commission (PSC).

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