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WEDNESDAY 27TH AUGUST 2014

Members of Parliament made obituary speeches in Parliament this morning in respect of the late Member of Parliament for Temotu Pele. Hon. Martin Magga who passed away at the Honiara Referral Hospital on Monday night after a long illness.

The late Hon. Magga was from Tuwo village in the Reef Islands and was born on the 11th of November 1953.He obtained a Cambridge School Certificate from Selwyn College from 1970 to 1974 and a Diploma in Diplomacy from University of PNG from 1989 to 1990.
Prior to becoming elected to Parliament, late Hon. Magga was a Civil Servant serving as Chief of Protocols, Director of Asian Section, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs before obtaining his career in politics.
He was elected to the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for the Temotu Pele Constituency on 5th April 2006. . He was re-elected on 4th August 2010 until his passing away.
During his term as a Member of Parliament, late Hon. Magga served various Ministerial portfolios including –

• Minister of Health and Medical Services from 5th May 2009 to 9th June 2009
• Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey from 21 December to 5th May 2009
• Minister of Law and Justice from November 12 2007 to December 21 2007
• Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs from 12 November to 21 December 2007

Late Hon. Magga also served as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee from 10th May 2006 to 12 November 2007.
He was commended and is remembered by his colleague Members for his dedication and commitment to his constituents and the country during his time as a Member of Parliament.

TUESDAY 26TH AUGUST 2014

Debate on the Family Protection Bill 2014 concluded today.
Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate have shown their support towards the Bill but have also expressed concern over how this Bill will impact the lives of families when it is implemented.

The Member of Parliament for East Choiseul and Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare gave a very powerful speech as the first Hon Member to debate the Bill.
Given the statistics presented during the Bills and Legislation inquiries and the introduction by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Commins Mewa; Hon. Manasseh Sogavare described the issue of Domestic Violence in Solomon Islands as sickening.

“The statistics and stories of abuse are sickening. They are too graphic and immorally sensitive to describe in this Honorable house,” he said.
He said our daily newspapers are only reporting on the cases that come before the court. They are only minored fracture of the number of innocent and helpless people who suffer at the hands of people they trust as members of their families.

The Bills and Legislation Committee reviewed the Bill and made its recommendations to Parliament.
The Bill prohibits conducts, or threats of such conduct, committed by a person against another person. This includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. These forms of abuse are further defined in the Bill.
The Bill also defines the types of relationships in which domestic violence can occur. The Bill is a mixture of criminal and civil law. Whilst it criminalizes behaviors relating to domestic violence, it also provides civil remedies to protect victims in ensuring their safety.

The penalty for committing domestic violence is $30,000 or a 3 year imprisonment term or both.
Virtually, all Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate spoke highly of the introduction of the Bill and commended the Bill to the House.
Proceedings on the Bill will continue tomorrow when the Bill will be considered by the Committee of the Whole House, clause by clause.
Parliament adjourned and will resume at 9:30 today.

FRIDAY 22 AUGUST 2014
Parliament has passed the Solomon Islands National University (Amendment) Bill 2014 on Wednesday the 20th of August 2014.

The Bill was to amend provisions of the Solomon Islands National University Act 2012 relating to the Council of the University.

The primary object of this Bill is to facilitate more regular meetings of the council of the Solomon Islands National University.

The council has not been able to hold its regular meetings because of the impracticality of attaining the threshold of 5 appointed members to form a quorum.

The Bill amended section 24(1) (a) of Solomon Islands National University Act 2012 to reduce the requirement for the presence of 5 appointed members to a more achievable requirement of 2 appointed members.

The Bill also seeks to amend section 12(4) of the Act to provide for the general staff member of the university who is an elected member of the Council to have a 3 year term of office as an elected member. This is the same term of office as the majority of elected members.

Previously, the Act did not limit the term of office of the general staff member. All elected members are eligible for re-election when their term of office expires.

The passing of this Bill gave a total of three Bills being passed so far in this current sitting of Parliament.

FRIDAY 22 AUGUST 2014

The Family protection Bill 2014 has been introduced in Parliament on Thursday the 21st of August 2014.

The Bill when becomes an Act will provide for the protection of families from domestic violence and to promote the safety, health and well being of victims of domestic violence and for related purposes.

The Act has the following objectives:

  • To ensure the safety and protection of all persons who experience or witness domestic violence and
  • To provide, support and redress for all victims of domestic; and
  • To facilitate programs for victims of domestic violence to assist their recovery and ensure that they are able to lead a safe and healthy life; and
  • To facilitate the issue and enforcement of police safety notices and protection orders to stop domestic violence; and
  • To Implement certain principles underlying the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the convention of the rights of the child; and
  • To create offences in relation to domestic violence and provide for increased sentences for persons convicted of such offences where certain aggravating factors are present.

The Act recognizes police safety notices, protection orders, assistance to victims of domestic violence, advice, counseling, prevention and awareness of domestic violence and offences.

The Bill defines domestic violence as a conduct committed by a person against another person with whom the offender is in a domestic relationship, or the threat of such conduct, that constitutes any of the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse and
  • Economic abuse

The Act further states that a person is in a domestic relationship with another person if;

  • They are or have been family members or
  • They are parents of a child or persons who have or have had parental responsibility together for a child; or
  • They are or were in an engagement, courtship or customary relationship including an actual or perceived intimate sexual relationship of any duration; or
  • One person is a domestic worker in the other person’s household.

The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Commins Mewa moved the second reading of the Bill yesterday, the 21st of August 2014. Debate will begin next week followed by the committee stage and third reading of the Bill.

THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST 2014

Parliament has passed the Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 on Tuesday 19th August 2014.

This Bill amended the Provincial Government Act 1997 in order to permit holding of elections on a date other than the fourth anniversary of the previous election when certain circumstances make such action necessary in the public interest.

After deliberations by some members of Parliament the bill went through the Committee stage without amendments and finally passed in third reading.

Members of Parliament who have contributed during the debate have shown their support to the Bill; however, have raised other issues one of which is to strengthen the Provincial system Maladministration and misappropriation.

This was also one of the recommendations made by the Bills and Legislation Committee in their report. Deputy Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Maelanga who was the only Government MP to speak also supported this piece of recommendation.

“We should consider administration of each provinces and how they appropriate their funds” he said.

However when winding up the debate on this Bill, the Hon Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening Hon Silas Tausinga welcomed the comments and issues raised and said that the issues are of fundamental importance and require broad and substantial changes to the provincial government act.

“If it’s done it should be part of a broader governments view to commend the BLC for their recommendations on the report”

Hon Tausinga further explained that the intention of the Bill is for the proper management of Elections programs in the provinces. He said the outcome of the bill will surely:

  1. resolve practical problems that are often arises during elections
  2. help ministry of provincial government to align provincial elections where it sees fit to save cost.
  3. resolve any uncertainties which regards to timing of the biometric register and biometric voters list

  4. Provide greater legal certainty in the potential abuse of other sections of provincial government act of 1997
  5. save money and unnecessary costs

Hon Tausinga explained that his Ministry through certain reform programs that are currently underway with the Ministry responsible for National elections through the electoral commissions is planning to undertake the major reform in the country’s electoral process.

Minister Tausinga told Parliament that the Amendment to provincial government act will surely promote transparency and accountability through proper planning, proper consultation and proper management in ensuring that democratic rights of our citizens are exercised through an election process that is free, fair and that accommodates all the development aspirations of Solomon Islanders.

“Now that the Bill is passed it will surely cemented a great legacy for the honorable house and will surely inflict trust and confidence to our people on the parliament’s recognition of exercising their rights and to install a political leader of their choice” Minister Tausinga said.

The Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 is the first Bill to be passed in this current seventh and final meeting of the Ninth Parliament.

THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST 2014

Parliament has passed the Business Names Bill 2014 on Wednesday the 20th August 2014.

The Act provides for the Registration and use of Business Names, for the Repeal of the Registration of the Business Names Act (cap. 178) and for related purposes.

It replaced the existing outdated Registration of Business Names law.

Unlike the current system which is paper-based and takes two to four weeks after an application is received to register a business name, the new Act provides for an electronic system which will be more efficient and would place fair costs on the private sector in Solomon Islands, particularly those in the provinces.

The new Act when implemented is expected to:

  • Reduce the time taken to register business names
  • Keep information electronically
  • Encourage more informal businesses to enter the formal economy and
  • Assist government activities such as National Provident Fund Contributions, tax enforcement and issuing business licenses.

The Business Names Bill 2014 is part of the Government’s on – going program of reforming business laws to bring them into line with modern best practice and the conditions of Business in Solomon Islands.

WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST 2014

The Business Names Bill 2014 is part of the Government’s on – going program of reforming business laws to bring them into line with modern best practice and the conditions of Business in Solomon Islands.

The Bill when becomes an Act will provide for the Registration and use of Business Names, for the Repeal of the Registration of the Business Names Act (cap. 178) and for related purposes.
This Act will replace the existing outdated Registration of Business Names law.
Therefore, the objects of this Bill are to:

-Ensure that, if an entity carries on a business under a business name, those who engage or propose to engage with that business can identify and contact the entity;

-To ensure that business names that are the same or almost the same as other business names, or the registered names of companies, charitable trusts or co-operative societies, are not used where that would confuse or mislead; and

-To ensure that business names that should not be used, including because they are misleading, deceptive or offensive to the public, are not used
When introducing the Bill, the Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration, Hon. Elijah Doro Muala, explained that the reason for this new Bill is that the existing Registration of Business Names Act is outdated and needs to be replaced entirely.

“The current system is paper-based and it takes two to four weeks after an application is received to register a business name,” he said.
He stated that this outdated law creates unnecessary inefficiencies and places unfair costs on the private sector in Solomon Islands and in particular those in the Provinces.

Hon. Doro Muala further elaborated that the Bill is aimed at promoting a strong private sector development and in particular the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that has ready access to business name registration and the benefits of entering the private sector that goes with it.

According to Hon. Doro Muala the new Bill will create a more efficient business name registration system that can take less time and resources, especially for people living in rural areas who are finding it difficult to access registration of their business names.

These “Business names”, or sometimes known as “trading names”, enable entities to differentiate themselves in the market and communicate with their customers about their business activities.

He said over one thousand new businesses emerged every year in the Provinces and Villages and the existing Registration of Business Names is somewhat inaccessible for our small business to register their Businesses hence the importance to have an up to date Business Names law.

Therefore, this new Bill is intended to provide entrepreneurs with flexible ways to have their business names registered as separate entity.
The new reforming systems of the Bill are:
- Reducing the time taken to register business names
- Keeping information electronically
- Encouraging more informal businesses to enter the formal economy and
- Assisting government activities such as National Provident Fund Contributions, tax enforcement and issuing business licenses.

The passage of this Bill will be accompanied by an upgrade of the current Business Names Register to a new electronic system.
This system will also allow entities to register for business names, and provide the required reporting on-line and members of the public will have online access to the register for free.

THURSDAY 14TH AUGUST 2014

The seventh and final meeting of the ninth Parliament begun yesterday the 13th of August 2014 and was adjourned to Monday the 18th of August 2014.

Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza welcomed all Members of Parliament in his opening address and informed them of the number of developments that took place since Parliament was adjourned Sine Die on the 29th of May 2014.

During the adjournment, the Public Accounts Committee held 20 hearings from the 6th June to 28th July on the following Performance Audit Reports:

  • Managing Sustainable Fisheries (Tuna Fishery) in Solomon Islands Fisheries Exclusive Economic Zone
  • National Cattle Rehabilitation Project for the Ministry of
    Agriculture & Livestock Development
  • Management of Government Motor Vehicle Fleet
  • Tertiary Scholarship Management by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development
  • Tsunami and Earth Quake Relief Fund within the National Disaster Council under the Ministry of Home Affairs

And the following Financial Audit Reports:

  • National Transport Funds 2011 and 2012
  • 2012 SIBC Annual Report
  • 2013 SIEA Annual Report
  • 2012 Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands Annual Report
  • 2013 CBSI Annual Report
  • 2013 Solomon Islands NPF Annual Report and its Subsidiaries
  • 2010 and 2012 SIG National Accounts
  • Honiara City Council 2010 Financial Statements
  • SI Ports Authority 2010 Financial Statements

Sir Allan said he is looking forward to a very lively debate this meeting on the various important issues that are before Parliament.

Parliament is adjourned to Monday the 18th of August for the following reasons:

  1. The arrival of the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mr. John Kerry yesterday afternoon.
  2. The production of a number of Bills at the Office of the Legal Draftsman would need time.
  3. Time is also needed for the Bills and Legislation Committee.

“With those important activities, I feel that it is important to adjourn till Monday,” Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said.

The House is expected to conclude before Monday the 8th of September 2014, therefore, this 9th Parliament which began on 8th September 2010 is expected to dissolve on the 8th of September 2014.

THURSDAY 14 AUGUST 2014

More bills are expected to be tabled in this current last meeting before the ninth Parliament dissolve on 8th September 2014.

This was revealed by the Speaker of Parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza in his opening speech when Parliament resumed on Wednesday this week.

Sir Allan said he knew the Government intended to bring more Bills thus he warned Members of Parliament to look forward to and deliberate on them when they come before the House.

“This would be a very busy one as some members have also lodged questions to be asked in the House” Sir Allan said.

The first three Bills that came before the house were The Family Protection Bill 2014, Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Business Names Bill 2014. A fourth Bill that is currently before the Speaker’s Office is the Solomon Islands National University (Amendment) Bill 2014.

Inquiries into the Family Protection Bill 2014 by the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) were concluded on Tuesday the 12th August 2014 after it started on Monday the 11th. Its full report is expected to be completed soon before it is debated on the floor of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Parliament has adjourned to Monday 18th August to allow the BLC to conduct its hearing on the Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Solomon Islands National University (Amendment) Bill 2014.

WEDNESDAY 13TH AUGUST 2014

Parliament is scheduled to begin its final meeting today the 13th of August 2014 before the House will dissolve on the 8th of September 2014.

Three Bills are currently before the House. The Family Protection Bill, Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the Business Names Bill 2014.

The “Family Protection Bill 2014” is before the House and the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) have begun inquiries into it starting Monday 11th of August 2014.
The Bill aims to provide for the protection of families from domestic violence and to promote the safety, health and wellbeing of victims of domestic violence and for related purposes.

A Second Bill currently in the Speaker’s Office is the Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014.

This Bill seeks to amend the Provincial Government Act 1997, in order to permit holding of elections on a date other than the fourth anniversary of the previous election when certain circumstances make such action necessary in the public interest.

The BLC is responsible for reviewing all the draft legislation introduced to Parliament. BLC will also prepare a written report on the Bill containing observations and recommendations arising from the Committee deliberations for the House to debate on.

The Business Names Bill 2014 was in its first reading in the previous meeting and is expected to be brought forward to its second and third reading and do passed before this House is dissolve.

Meanwhile, the public is encouraged to submit their views on issues regarding both Bills. For more information on submissions to the Committee can be accessed on Parliament’s website or on published advertisements.

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