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TIMES are hard. That much we all know about. It is evident everywhere today.

What we do not know is what is going on in government behind the scene. There is plenty but no one is talking about that.

For those in the know, there is a lot going on that we all know nothing about. In the eyes of officials, we are not entitled to know because we simply are outside the “know” circle.

We do not know for example how some or all of these things work, particularly how they affect each one of us on a daily basis. And because we have become passive over time, we simply accept the status quo.

And it continues.

But do you know for example that landlords in Honiara and perhaps in other urban centres as well are subsidising the government’s financial difficulties? Non-payment of landlord’s monthly rentals is taking pressure off the government’s worsening cash flow problems. Thank goodness Taiwan has come forward with $31 million. That helps, but for how long?

The question that needs to be asked is how this life support system would go on for?

On the investment side of the scale, no new projects have been realised in the last ten or so years either by government or via the private sector. While MOUs were signed here and there, there’s little to show for it in terms of the kind of investment that would create employment.

Even with the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF), the State-Owned Company that had made so much gain in the same period was fighting to remain competitive. Its last major investment was the acquisition of Our Telekom shares a few years ago.

As for the government, there is nothing to show for on its investment balance sheet. This is not to say there were no investment policy and or development proposals. There were.

But nothing tangible has ever been realized in the last three years for example. Any chances that the government would get something up on the board before the next election are looking rather remote, given that:

  • Its finances are in shambles owing to the cash flow problem;
  • None of the projects promised the people of Malaita has ever been touched; and
  • The night cometh when no one can work

The foregoing factors beg the question as to where the billions of dollars appropriated in the last three years had gone.

In 2015, the government brought down a $4 billion-plus budget, which consisted of development and recurrent budget. The same was repeated the following year, that is to say, in 2016.

This year, despite advice to the contrary, the government brought down a $4.1 billion budget. But three months later, a supplementary or mini budget to prop up spending was brought down.

A second supplementary is being put together to ease pressure on government spendings. The question though is where funding for this second mini budget in three months is going to come from.

It would appear the drop by 58 per cent in donor funding to the development budget is beginning to bite.

Despite this, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Independence Anniversary well-wishers last week that the country has the capacity to show the international community that “we can do it.”

Good thing the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund (SINPF) Board has knocked back government overtures to borrow more from the people’s savings.

In March this year, the DCC Government borrowed $150 million from the Fund in exchange for domestic bonds. This might have been responsible for the drop in dividends paid out to members this financial year.

Initially, the SINPF Board was to approve only three per cent in dividend to be paid out to members this financial year. But the argument that this was a huge drop from 10 per cent last year won the day for the 5.3 per cent dividend.

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