The Ministry of Justice and Community Services (MoJCS) is grappling with the challenge of inadequate budget allocation, hindering its ability to meet the expectations of its 14 line agencies.

Justice Minister John Still Tari Qetu acknowledged the significant challenges faced by the MoJCS, noting that there had been attempts in the past to abolish the ministry and relocate its departments to other government entities.

Minister Qetu reflected on his assumption of office on November 4, 2022, during which Arthur Faerua served as the Acting Director General (DG) until his contract ended. Shortly after, Rothina Ilo Noka was appointed as the Acting DG. Expressing the importance of addressing women’s needs, Minister Qetu highlighted the contributions of women, particularly widows, to the country’s economy. He emphasised the necessity of addressing their concerns through the Department of Women’s Affairs and the Widows Association.

Minister Qetu expressed disappointment at the lack of allocation to meet the well-being requirements of women during the recent budget session. He criticised the past practice of perpetually rolling over budgets from the previous year, asserting that such an approach indicated insufficient progress and ineffective leadership among the heads of line agencies within the Ministry of Justice.

“The Ministry of Justice has been through a very hard time, it looks after the welfare of people, human rights, women, gender, child desk, and disability,” Minister Qetu remarked.

“Many people are saying that it is a very small ministry, which is incorrect, it is not a small Ministry.” He further lamented the failure of past Acting DGs to submit necessary papers to the Council of Ministers (COM), which hindered the advancement of budgets and initiatives.

However, with the appointment of Rothina Ilo Noka as the Acting DG, positive changes have occurred. Papers were finally submitted to the COM, leading to progress in various areas. Minister Qetu expressed his satisfaction with the current Acting DG, Mr. Pacco Siri, who possesses extensive knowledge of the ministry’s line agencies. He expressed confidence in Mr. Siri’s ability to facilitate smoother operations and foster close collaboration with cabinet members.

“We will ensure that every line agency is satisfied, including the two departments. Therefore, we are looking forward to achieving our goals with our new Acting DG,” Minister Qetu affirmed.

The MoJCS is determined to secure a larger budget to adequately address the needs of its 14 line agencies, as well as the Departments of Women’s Affairs and Correctional Services.