By Georgina Kekea
The Ministry of Rural Development, MRD, is prepared to support China in its rural sustainable development program for Solomon Islands. Speaking exclusively to Tavuli News, Permanent Secretary, Dr. Samson Viulu says the People’s Republic of China will be rolling out its program soon where they will be calling for proposals from Solomon Islanders for development projects. He says the Ministry of Rural Development will be the focal point of contact for the submissions.
At the same time, he Ministry of Rural Development is working on strengthening the management of the Constituency Development Funds (CDF), usually channeled through the Members of Parliament. Under the current draft CDF policy, all funds will be channeled through Ministry with strict guidelines.
Since August 2022, the Ministry have embarked on a series of consultations, seeking feedback from rural constituents through their constituency offices. Except for Choiseul and Makira provinces, the MRD have carried out consultations in all of the provinces. In Guadalcanal, participants say it is the first time for them to be part of such a process and they are quite pleased to share their inputs. The participants say having this conversation and consultations have also shed light to what the purpose of the CDFs are for.
The CDF draft policy is now ready for Caucus and Cabinet’s deliberation. The Policy once approved, will help inform the review of the CDF Act 2013 and the development of regulations surrounding CDF. Other key reforms underway in MRD are Restructuring and Functional Review, Constituency Strengthening Planning Projects,
Meanwhile on the China’s Sustainable Development Program, Minister, Dudley Kopu in his Sine Die speech last December expressed his gratitude to the People and Government of the People’s Republic of China for their support in the last three years towards the CDF program. He said the Ministry looks forward to the continuous support from China and urged other partners to also support the work of the Ministry of Rural Development since they are the Ministry, dealing directly with rural Solomon Islanders.
Since establishing diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands, China have been instrumental in supporting Solomon Islands through the Constituency Development Funds (CDF). The CDF have support rural dwellers in small scale infrastructure, income generating activities and water and sanitation projects. In August 2022, Rural Development Minister, Duddley Kopu paid a visit to China’s Ambassador to share some of the progressive work of the Ministry.
Kopu told Ambassador Ming that MRD is now working on establishing standards for effective Monitoring and Evaluation of the CDF and possible donor-funded projects. He said the Ministry have reached out to UNDP for technical assistance.
‘MRD is of the view that a stronger M&E will hopefully attract additional assistance from willing friends to further develop our rural areas’, Kopu said.