30 Aug 2006

Solomon Islands government changes operation of RCDF

6:55 pm on 30 August 2006

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, has stopped operating a discretionary fund out of his office that was the subject of controversy.

There have been longstanding allegations that contributions by Taiwan to the Rural Communities Development Fund, the RCDF, were used as a slush fund by the previous administration with little known publicly about how it was distributed and accounted for.

Money from the RCDF is intended for use by MPs for projects in their constituencies.

The P.M.'s political adviser, Sam Alasia, says changes are being made to the way the fund operates with regulations being put in place that will require MPs to provide accounts and to set up a committee to distribute the money.

Mr Alasia says Mr Sogavare has recently accepted further funds from Taiwan for the RCDF but put in place a new system.

"For purposes of co-ordination, the prime minister receives it on behalf of the members of parliament but he doesn't keep the RCDF here unlike the previous government when the prime minister had a discretionary fund of two million dollars. That's no longer the case now because prime minister Sogavare has done away with that."

Mr Alasia says the prime minister wants the MPs to be responsible for the RCDF.