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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Opposition Suggests Budget Shift For Solomons Teachers
Sikua says two legal options available for government to use

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 31, 2013) – Opposition leader Dr. Derek Sikua has suggested the way forward in ensuring Solomon Islands teachers return to work is for the government to address their demands through the use of either a virement or a departmental warrant.

Dr. Sikua said the heavy-handed approach taken by the government in an attempt to end the teachers’ strike has only worsened the situation.

"If the government is serious about addressing this situation brought about by its failure to allocate funds in the 2012 Supplementary Budget and the 2013 Budget for the teachers’ new scheme of service approved by Cabinet in February 2012, it should simply find the necessary funds within legal means to pay teachers according to this revised scheme of service," he said.

"As far as the government is concerned, there are two legal options of securing funds left open to it.

"The first is to look into the Ministry of Education 2013 budget for possibilities of virement, particularly, from funds that would not be needed until the second half of the year. The second is to look into the Ministry of Finance 2013 budget and use funds that are not immediately required and to use a departmental warrant."

The Opposition leader said any funds used either through virement or departmental warrant can be reimbursed in the March meeting of Parliament through a Supplementary Appropriation Bill.

Dr. Sikua said in reality what teachers want the government to pay to them now is the SB$18,833,546.35 [US$2.5 million] worth of arrears for 2012.

"I am certain that if the government secured this amount through either of the measures I have suggested and assures teachers that the sum of SB$19,210,217.28 [US$2.6 million] as additional cost for teachers’ payroll for 2013 will be factored into a Supplementary Appropriation Bill and brought to Parliament for approval in late March 2013 and backdated to the 1st of February 2013, teachers will happily resume work immediately."

The Opposition leader said the use of contingency warrant would be a misappropriation in this case because this is not an unforeseen expenditure, nor would the funds under contingencies warrants be sufficient.

Furthermore, he said the use of advance warrant would be deemed as misappropriation because the reimbursement into the advance warrant has to come from external sources and it is not certain that an external source would want to assist the government in this case.

Solomon Star
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