A top delegation made up of executive members of the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) led by the Honourable Minister Duddley Kopu paid a courtesy call on the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Joseph Ma’ahanua in Suva, Fiji, yesterday (Wednesday 9th November, 2022)).
The courtesy call is purposely to inform H.E Commissioner Ma’ahanua the purpose of the MRD’s delegation mission and engagements in Fiji in the coming few days and also provide an update on the current reforms that the ministry (MRD) is currently undertaking.
MRD Minister Hon. Duddley Kopu and the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Joseph Ma’ahanua
Discussions were centred on the first ever Solomon Islands Constituency Development (SICD) Policy that will lead towards reforming constituency developments.
Minister Kopu informed H.E Ma’ahanua that the policy has already gone through nationwide consultation in the recent three months and is now in its drafting stage.
He added that one of the determinations of the mission is to validate SICD Policy with designated key informants of the University of the South Pacific (USP) particularly Solomon Islands academics and senior working people of Solomon Islands residing in Fiji.
Minister Kopu highlighted that the SICD Policy key goals are to support and provide a policy framework toward review of the 2013 CDF Act; and it will enhance and contribute towards empowering all Solomon Islanders to participate meaningfully in constituency development activities to improve their livelihoods. The SICD Policy shall focus on the following key thematic areas: socio-economic infrastructures, livelihoods income generating projects, essential services such as health, education and police- security, and downstream processing and value adding.
In doing so, he said that having the views and inputs of our academics from USP in Fiji and the working community of Solomon Islanders in Fiji is important.
Meanwhile, Hon. Kopu said that his team will also use the opportunity to visit specific Fiji Government Ministries especially productive sectors such as Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Tourisms, Commerce and other sectors that are relevant to rural development in Solomon Islands.
“The mission was premised on the need to refocus Constituency Development Fund (CDF) programme in a more integrated, effective and efficient delivery mechanism that is transparent, accountable and also promotes good governance.
“This initiative is aligned to the current DCGA government redirection policy particularly 220.127.116.11 (a) Review of CDF Act and Implementation of its regulations,” Minister Kopu said.
Minister Kopu and his delegation with SI High Commissioner in Fiji Joseph Ma’ahanua and his Deputy Madolyn Yalu, standing on the left, front row
He further said that they will also use the opportunity to explore opportunities and learn from the challenges and successes of rural development initiatives and models in Fiji mostly in the productive and resource sectors and essential services given that Fiji is ahead of Solomon Islands in terms of rural development.
He added that with MRD embarking on the new SICD Policy, the mission is also an opportunity to establish and forge new partnership with organizations both public or private enterprise working in similar areas and also to customise Fiji’s other successful best practices in the productive and resource sectors towards advancing rural development in Solomon Islands.
In welcoming the delegation, H.E Ma’ahanua said that he was honoured and happy to receive Minister Kopu and his team.
He said that apart from the Prime Minister and Minister MFAET, Hon. Minister Kopu was the first Solomon Islands Government Minister to have visited the Solomon Islands High Commission Office in Fiji after the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
H.E Ma’ahanua then told Minister Kopu and his visiting delegation that he really appreciates the current reforms that the ministry is undertaking especially with the development of the SICD Policy framework which is not only useful but an important mechanism that will lead to impacting constituency related development programs to improve social and economic livelihoods of rural Solomon Islanders.
He assured Minister Kopu and his team that the SI High Commission Office in Suva is looking forward to continuing supporting the team while on official engagements in Fiji over the coming days.
Minister Kopu and his delegation arrived in Fiji on Tuesday 8th November, 2022. They are due to arrive back in the country on Wednesday 16th November, 2022.
The Solomon Islands Government is funding the trip.
The delegation consist of team leader Honourable Minister Duddley Kopu, Permanent Secretary Dr. Samson Viulu, Deputy Secretary Technical (DST) Hugo Hebala, Deputy Secretary Corporate (DSC), Constance Wane, Director of Rural Development Division (RDD), Milfred Delemani, Director Governance, Hickson George, Financial Controller (FC), Timothy Paoka and Director Communications and Public Relations, Stephen Diisango.