Finance Minister says TSI disgraces itself with DBSI article

The Minister for Finance and Treasury (MoFT) Hon. Harry Kuma has described the media article published by the Transparency Solomon Islands (“TSI”), as factually incorrect, malicious and unbecoming of an organization that promotes itself as the beacon of transparency. 

Any article that is published without a proper research is ultimately designed to mislead the public. TSI is expected to do better than publish article based on street talk or spoon fed by individuals or bodies with different motives and not for the benefit of this country.

TSI, claimed that the DBSI Acts had been breached and the process of appointing the Board of Directors was politically influenced and lack transparency, and the composition of the Board lacks banking experiences.

However, in response, Minister Kuma clarifies all the baseless claims by the TSI as follows:

  • The then Interim Board consists of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for Finance, as chairperson, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for development planning and aid coordination and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for Commerce. These are Interim Board members prescribed by the DBSI Act. They do not need to be appointed because their position is prescribed by law. It is the other Interim Board Members who are not prescribed by the DBSI Act that needs to be appointed. As such, the Minister of Finance and Treasury appointed the other five Interim Members in accordance with section 49 (1) (d). The other Board Members are the five appointed by the Minister of Finance and Treasury.   Contrary to the claim, the Interim Board ceased on December 30th 2019.
  • As required under the DBSI Act, the process to select and appoint the Board proper, was done in accordance with Part 3 section 11 of the DBSI Act. This includes the appointment of the nominating committee pursuant to section 11 (2).  The nominating committee consists of 3 members of which 2 member are from the private sector holding senior executive positions.  Having this requirement in place, the due process of advertising the positions of the DBSI Board as required by the DBSI Act, also commenced at the same time.
  • It was also clarified that during these processes, the CEO of the DBSI, assumes the duties to prepare the Bank for the launching, with the guidance by the Minister and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
  • After the above due processes have been completed, includes the receipt of all the expressions of interests followed by the committees’ consultation and recommendation to the Minister, a formal appointment was done.   Furthermore, all the recommendation made by the nominating committee to the Minister has passed the fi-t-and-proper tests as required under the DBSI Act, along with the prudential regulations under the Financial Institution Act and accompanying regulations.

It was further clarified that the four former interim Board Members were reappointed to maintain continuity and guide the early implementation stage of the Bank. Furthermore, 4 additional new members were appointed.

It was confirmed that all 8 members of the Board met the skill set as required by the Bank.

That said, section 14 of the Act provides for vacation of office by a Board member. Section 15 further provides for termination of appointment. Section 15 also makes reference to section 24 of the Act which provides for situation of conflict of interest. One of such situation is that Board Members are not allowed to loan from the Bank.

It is advisable that TSI get its fact right before publishing such misleading article. It is also highly advisable that TSI gets proper legal opinion before interpreting the law to suit their own preconceived assumption. This kind of criticism of the government that lacks depth and credibility will only lower and demean the stature of TSI as a professed organisation that fights corruption. While the Government appreciates the role of TSI, the Government would also like to remind TSI to pull up its socks and ensure that our public is being fed with the correct information and not half-truths.