6 Aug 2007

Push for greater provincial control in Solomon Islands over tsunami recovery funds

3:28 pm on 6 August 2007

There is a push for the Western and Choiseul provinces in Solomon Islands to have greater control over the spending of funds which poured in following the tsunami and earthquake.

The premier of Western Province, Alex Lokopio, says he's in Honiara trying to track down where money was spent during the emergency phase.

Mr Lokopio is estimating that 4,000 people in and around Gizo and surrounding islands, are still living in tents, more than 4 months after the disaster struck.

He thinks it will cost between between 200 and 300 million Solomon Islands dollars, or more than 40 million U.S. dollars, to rebuild houses, and health and education facilities.

Mr Lokopio says too much of the decision making has taken place in Honiara and provincial authorities should be able to have input over the allocation of recovery funds.

"That's the money I'm here in Honiara to discuss with the prime minister - if that money could be utilised fully by getting a committee set up in Gizo in the Western Province, and maybe Choiseul, so that the money can be managed from that area so they can reach victim areas."

Mr Lokopio says the prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has agreed that a provincial committee can be set up but the funds will go through the national government initially.