Anti-corruption advocates across the Pacific are expressing concern about a Chinese state-owned company's efforts to secure a port and landing strip in the Solomon Islands and money paid to the nation’s controversial leader and controlling members of parliament.
A recent ABC News Australia article Australia urged to intervene as China tries to buy a strategic Solomon Islands port and television segment Pacific Capture: How Chinese money is buying the Solomons reported on the issue.
Exposed documents show payments from the Chinese Government to combative Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare and his supporters.
"This is corruption," said Ruth Liloqula, the head of Transparency International in Solomon Islands."China is keeping this government together. We all assume that China is remotely controlling the government and Solomon Islands affairs."
Constituency Development Funding
One area of ongoing concern is the application of Constituency Development Funding (CDF). These are funds paid directly to politicians for use in their constituencies and it is practiced in developing countries around the world. The Solomon Islands CDF previously funded by Taiwan is now funded by China.
CDF funding has an inherent corruption risk in that money goes directly into the hands of people who have a private interest to maintain their position of power. This runs against the two anti-corruption principles: that public office should not be used for private gain, and that everyone is entitled to impartial decisions by public officials.
To have any credibility such funds must be non-partisan, with accountability measures in place. There needs to be independent oversight, transparency and fairness in spending and restrictions on timing and funding use to reduce the likelihood of vote-buying.
In the Solomon Islands CDF funding has been allocated only to members of parliament who directly support the Prime Minister. There are no accountability measures or oversight mechanisms. This seems corrupt. China, as the funder, should be applying funding parameters that build integrity and accountability into the funding arrangement. If not, its role will be seen as collusion, at best.