The representatives of the fourteen village councils took their issues to the government officials at the NGO symposium yesterday, a consultation meeting to hear the views of the non-government organisations.
According to the organiser Frank Sioneholo (pic left), most of the village council representatives want the government to review their annual grant of $10,000 for the village councils. There are also concerns about the reporting requirements, with the Councils asking for more flexibility.
Representing the Avatele village council was Chairperson Hetututama Hetutu (pic right) who said that he was very pleased with the meeting. The feedback was an indication that the organisations in attendance appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and their concerns which will be taken to the National Summit which started today until tomorrow.
Hetutu said that in the past, the NGOs were mainly the village councils but there are many more groups now so it’s a good idea to meet and hold the NGO symposium annually.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Catherine Papani shared the concerns of the business community especially the struggles and ongoing issues of late payments by the government of business invoices.
She said that one of the businesses mentioned waiting weeks and another said they had to wait eight months to receive payment. While not a new issue, the Chamber of Commerce is concerned that these businesses are struggling with cashflow and the government delaying payments just makes it even tougher for businesses to survive especially during these Covid times.
Mrs. Papani also raised concerns at the lack of due process when government departments don’t use the tenders process and sometimes the government will order their goods directly from outside businesses instead. The Chamber of Commerce is the Secretariat of the Cabinet appointed Tender’s Board, but according to Catherine Papani, only a few departments use the Tenders process.
Catherine Papani says that the Chamber of Commerce will continue to work with the government going forward especially with work on sustainable development programmes and exploring public-private partnerships.
The issues raised at the NGO symposium will be discussed and shared with the Senior government officials at the National Summit.