Finance Ministers of Solomon Islands

Snyder Rini, Finance Minister 2001-02, 2002-03 & 2007-10

With the recent dismissal of Snyder Rini as Finance Minister and his replacement by Francis Billy Hilly, I thought it would be interesting to try to list the Finance Ministers of Solomons.

After a bit of digging, I have found at least 23 appointments as Finance Minister from Wille Betu’s appointment in 1975 up until Billy Hilly’s appointment in 2010 – see the full list below.

Many (13) of these 23 appointments have been made since the coup in June 2000.

Indeed, in the last decade, the average Finance Minister has held office for less than a year. I think a couple of interesting points flow from this.

Gordon Darcy Lilo, Finance Minister 2006-07

First, the high turnover of ministers highlights another dimension of political instability in Solomon Islands. Even when there is no change of Prime Minister, constant cabinet reshuffles greatly undermine good policy making because Ministers have less opportunity to come to grips with their portfolios and the bureaucracy has less opportunity to develop a good working relationship with the Minister. Thus, for example, the fact that there were five different Finance Ministers during the Kemakeza government is indicative of the difficulties experienced at that time. But in addition, the high turnover would undoubtedly have added further to those difficulties.

Peter Boyers, Finance Minister 2005-06

Second, given that, during the short tenure of most Finance Ministers during the last decade, it is noteworthy that Rini held the position for almost 2.5 years. Flowing from my previous point, I think this largely reflects the remarkable stability of the Sikua government, which had very few Cabinet reshuffles until the dramatic events in parliament on 21 April. No doubt this stability within Cabinet is part of the reason for the remarkably large number of bills that the Sikua government has enacted (35 in all, apparently).

Francis Zama, Finance Minister 2003-05

And finally, a little trivia: Billy Hilly’s appointment means that four of the nine Prime Ministers of Solomon Islands have also served as Finance Minister at one time or another.

The List

Here is the list of Finance Ministers, including the relevant dates (to the best of my knowledge), the reason their tenure ended and the Prime Minister they served under.

  • Francis Billy Hilly (22 Apr 2010 – , Sikua govt)
  • Snyder Rini (21 Dec 2007 – 21 Apr 2010 (sacked), Sikua govt)
  • Peter Boyers (28 Nov – 20? Dec 2007 (change of govt), 2nd Sogavare govt)
  • Francis Zama (8 Nov – 28 Nov 2007 (reshuffle), 2nd Sogavare govt)
  • Gordon Darcy Lilo (27? Oct 2006 – 8 Nov 2007 (resigned), 2nd Sogavare govt)
  • Bartholomew Ulufa’alu (May 2006 – 26? Oct 2006 (sacked), 2nd Sogavare govt)
  • Peter Boyers (21 Apr 2006 – 3 May 2006 (change of govt), Rini govt)
  • Peter Boyers (4 Feb 2005 – 4 Apr 2006 (election), Kemakeza govt)
  • Francis Zama (28 July 2003 – 3 Feb 2005 (sacked), Kemakeza govt)
  • Snyder Rini (Dec 2002 – June 2003 (sacked/resigned), Kemakeza govt)
  • Laurie Chan (? 2002 – 10 Dec 2002 (resigned), Kemakeza govt)
  • Michael Maina (Dec 2001 – ? 2002 (sacked?), Kemakeza govt)
  • Snyder Rini (June 2000 – Dec 2001 (election), 1st Sogavare govt)
  • ? (1999 – June 2000 (coup), Ulufa’alu govt)
  • Manasseh Sogavare (Aug? 1997 – 1999 (sacked), Ulufa’alu govt)
  • Christopher Columbus Abe (Nov? 1994 – 6 Aug 97, 5th Mamaloni govt)
  • Andrew Nori (July? 1993 – 7 Sep 1994 (resigned), Billy Hilly govt)
  • Christopher Columbus Abe (Mar? 1989 – 26 May 1993 (election), 3rd and 4th Mamaloni govts)
  • ? (Nov? 1984 – 28 Feb 1989, Kenilorea and Alebua govts)
  • Bartholomew Ulufa’alu (Sep? 1981 – 24 Oct 1984 (election), 2nd Mamaloni govt)
  • Benedict Kinika (Aug? 1980 – 21 Aug 1981 (change of govt), 2nd Kenilorea govt)
  • Benedict Kinika (July? 1976 – 6 Aug 1980 (election), 1st Kenilorea govt)
  • Willie Betu (November? 1975 – 22 June 1976 (election), 1st Mamaloni administration)

    Laurie Chan, Finance Minister, 2002

Data note

I can’t promise that the data here is absolutely accurate. In particular, prior to Betu’s appointment in 1975, there may have been another Finance Minister in Mamaloni’s first five-person cabinet, 1974-75. Also, it is possible that I have missed one or two appointments during the 1980s (during the Kenilorea/Alebua govt) or 1990s (during the Mamaloni govts). So if anyone can provide corrections or additions, they will be gratefully received and acknowledged.

For what it’s worth, here are the main sources I have relied on.

For the recent Finance Ministers, I have relied on biographical data available on the Solomons Parliament web site. I have also made heavy use of Clive Moore’s 2004 book Happy Isles in crisis (see references below) although occasionally the information there seems inconsistent (eg, I’m a bit uncertain about Michael Maina’s tenure). Finally, where relevant, I have assumed that Finance Ministers have held office through to Election Day.

  • 1974 Mamaloni Cabinet: Moore 2004 (n.15, p.65)
  • 1975 Mamaloni Cabinet: Moore 2004 (n.17, pp.65-66)
  • 1976 Kenilorea Cabinet: Saemala (1979, p13); Moore 2004 (n.19, p.66)
  • 1980 Kenilorea Cabinet: Moore 2004 (n.23, p.66)
  • 1981 Mamaloni Cabinet: Moore 2004 (n.25, p.66)
  • 1984 Kenilorea Cabinet: Kenilorea 2008 (p.268)
  • 1989 Mamaloni Cabinet: Steeves 1996 (Table 1, p.122)
  • 1993 Billy Hilly Cabinet: Moore 2004 (n.33, p.67)
  • 1994 Mamaloni Cabinet: Moore (2004, p.87)
  • 1997 Ulufa’alu Cabinet: Moore (2004, p.99 and n.5 on p.122)
  • 2000 Sogavare Cabinet: Moore (2004, n.3 on p.174)

Update (27/05/10): I initially overlooked Peter Boyers’ brief tenure as Finance Minister in Nov-Dec 2007. I have now corrected that omission (thanks to Matt for pointing this out).


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4 Responses to “Finance Ministers of Solomon Islands”

  1. Matt Says:

    I am aware, as an advisor in MoFT in late 2007, that Hon Peter Boyers also had a short stint as Minster of Finance. He replaced Francis Zama and was Minister until the CNURA Government chose Hon Snyder Rini.

  2. Chris Chevalier Says:

    Re ;’prior to Betu’s appointment in 1975, there may have been another Finance Minister in Mamaloni’s first five-person cabinet, 1974-75.’

    In July 1975, Rev Peter Thompson resigned and the Cabinet was expanded with two new ministries, Natural Resources and Finance and Development. Betu took over from the Financial Secretary, an ex-officio position, as part of preparations for self government in 1976.
    After the Letcher Mint affair, when Mamaloni brought in 5 USIPA men, only two previous ministers – Kikolo and Betu kept their positions and only Betu had the same portfolio (Finance)

  3. Chris Chevalier Says:

    Christopher Columbus Abe became terminally ill in June 1996 (he died in July 1997). PM Mamaloni took over temporarily in July 1996 and tried some dramatic measures to restore order to the chaos by sacking 12 senior Finance officials. Edmund Andresen took over as Min of Finance until mid-February 1997 when Michael Maina took over until the Ulufa’alu govt came into power in August 1997.

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