TUESDAY 18TH APRIL 2017
At the adjournment of Parliament on Monday the 10th of April 2017, the 5th meeting of the 10th Parliament has concluded with a sine die motion moved by the Hon. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
All members of Parliament who spoke on the motion supported the motion despite sharing their various concerns and views that are of national interest.
There were three Bills that are still before the House to consider;
o The Whistle blowers Protection Bill 2016;
There were two Private members’ motions debated and passed;
A total of 71 Questions were asked & answered during the recent 5th meeting and 26 Papers or reports have been tabled. These were ranging from State Owned Enterprise (SOE) Annual/Financial reports to the Ministries’ Annual reports and corporate plans, Government’s policies/Strategies/White Papers and Parliamentary Committee reports etc.
TUESDAY 4TH APRIL 2017
Parliament has passed a motion to consider introducing a formula that reflects fair allocation of the Constituency Development Funds to each of the constituencies in Solomon Islands.
This was moved by the Leader of Independent Group, Hon. Dr Derek Sikua.
Hon. Sikua when moving the motion said he was asked by his constituents to see how the allocation of Constituency Development Funds can be done in a fairer and equitable manner based on such factors as population, remoteness and hardship factors.
“For my constituency alone, I have an estimated population of just over 15,600 people in Northeast Guadalcanal constituency. And if you divide the allocation that each constituency was given $6.5million for the 2017 financial year equally to each of my constituents, each person would get something like $416.18 each.”
He further gave a simple analysis of the funding to show the very unfair and sad story for the majority of our people in this country, which he asked that something must be done to correct this very grave injustice.
“My motion as it stands, asking the Government to do what this motion is saying, “he added.
Hon Sikua clarified that the CDF funds he referred to in this motion are basically the Solomon Islands Government Funds to support constituency development; the SSCD Funds and the Cash Grants that come with it as well as the Republic of China Taiwan Funds which are basically cash grants, but they may also include those funds that are paid directly to constituencies from Government.
Other Members who contributed to the motion suggested that factors such as land terrain, weather conditions, time and effort to get to a certain place and generally the physical nature of our constituencies must be considered when making a formula.
A total of 18 members from both sides of the house including the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition spoke in support of the motion.
Now it is up to Government to create and implement a formula for that cause.
TUESDAY 4TH APRIL 2017
Parliament has also passed the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 on Monday 3rd April 2017.
It has appropriated an additional Thirteen Million, Seven Hundred and Forty Six Thousand, and Fifty Two Dollars to the service of the year ending 31st December 2017.
The 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 consisted of recurrent contingency warrants, recurrent advance warrants and variations in appropriations for development expenditure that total up to $13,746,052.
The amounts being appropriated were as follows:
Variations in Appropriations
In terms of 2017 Budget Revenue and Expenditure, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reported that as of the 24th of March 2017, the Solomon Islands Government have executed $683 million or 18% of the annual revised Budget of $3.8 billion. The break-up of expenditures to date are as follows:
The report further stated that the level of monthly expenditures for 2017 is higher than revenue collections from January to March.
And it warned that if this trend continues, the SIG will ‘ration’ cash on a monthly basis in order to ensure basic payments such as salaries, rentals and utilities are covered.
Payments to Government services at this point are only being made as and when tax and non – tax revenues are collected.
More detail on Government’s current financial situation can be seen in the PAC report on the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017.
Parliament meeting continues but a Sine Die motion is expected this Friday 7th April 2017.
FRIDAY 31 MARCH 2017
Parliament has appropriated an additional Ninety two million two hundred and forty three thousand, five hundred and seventeen dollars ($92,243,517), to the service of the year ending 31st December 2016.
The 2016 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 consisted of recurrent and development contingency warrants that total up to $48,683,673 and recurrent and development advance warrants of up to $42,559,844.
This monies were used in the year ending 31st December 2016.
Recurrent contingency warrants were issued to the following Ministries in 2016:
For Development Contingency warrants, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development had asked and was issued a total of $9,771,717.00
A total of 7 Ministries were issued with recurrent Advance Warrants and two Ministries namely the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and the Ministry of Mines and Energy used a total of $8,568,000 for Development advance warrants.
Recurrent Advance warrants were:
The 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 is still in second reading stage, expected to be debated in the next sitting days.
Parliament meeting continues.
TUESDAY 28TH MARCH 2017
The 5th meeting of this 10th Parliament resumes today the 28th day of March 2017 after it was adjourned on Friday 10th March 2017.
As set out in the Provisional Order Paper for today, the Leader of Independent Group, Hon. Dr Derek Sikua is expected to ask a question on the developments of the National Wage Policy to the the Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration. And another question on the progress of developments on the 4th USP Campus at Panatina of East Honiara.
Thereafter, two supplementary appropriation Bills for which the Public Accounts Committee has held hearings on for the last five days will be put on first reading.
The Public Accounts Committee has concluded hearings into the two Supplementary Appropriations on Monday the 27th March 2017 and is expected to present a report to Parliament before debate on the two supplementary Bills commences.
Meanwhile, during this 5th meeting, Parliament receives a total of thirteen Bills. This included the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 and the two supplementary appropriation Bills now before the house. Out of this thirteen, it already passed seven. They were:
Those remaining and are yet to go through second reading are:
MONDAY 27TH MARCH 2017
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded hearings into the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 and the 2016 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 from the 26th March 2017 at the National Parliament House.
The Committee first looked into the 2016 Appropriation Bill 2017 on the first two days and subsequently the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 on Friday 24th March 2017.
As scheduled, the following Government Ministries has come before the Committee on Wednesday 22nd March:
Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Ministry of Home Affairs.
And on Thursday the 23rd March, the following appeared before the committee:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation Peace, National Parliament Office, Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs/ National Judiciary, Office of the Auditor General, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology.
The Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification appeared before the Committee on the morning of Friday 24th before the hearing into this Bill ended.
The following Government Ministries appeared before the committee for the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 on Friday 24th as well:
Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and the Disaster Management and Meteorology.
Meanwhile, Parliament stands adjourned and will resume on Tuesday 28th March 2017.
MONDAY 6TH MARCH 2017
Parliament has passed the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016 on Wednesday the 1st of March 2017.
Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, Hon. John Moffat Fugui presented this Act in Parliament to provide for the establishment and operation of the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority and for related purposes.
As was stated in its objects, the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016 is to establish a legislative framework for an Authority with responsibilities: for strategic planning for tertiary education and skills development; and for quality assurance of tertiary education and skills development; and for assessing applications and proposals for funding for scholarships for tertiary courses and for the provision or improvement of tertiary education and skills development.
The reasons for the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill are that; the provision of tertiary education and skills development requires improvement to better meet the needs of local, regional and international labour markets and to facilitate recognition of our tertiary qualifications outside Solomon Islands; and improvements need to be made to ensure that funding decisions for tertiary education and skills development are directed towards meeting the needs of local, regional and international labour markets and are made in an accountable and transparent manner.
There are significant advances to be made for the benefit of the economy and community if the private sector and public sector come together to plan for an improvement in the quality of tertiary education and skills development and an increase in participation in tertiary education and skills development on a fair and equitable basis. The Authority is designed to be the vehicle for bringing the private sector and public sector together for those purposes.
It is proposed that a quality assurance framework for tertiary education and skills development will be implemented by the Authority. The framework will provide for accreditation of tertiary courses and registration of providers of accredited tertiary courses and sets standards and criteria to be met for accreditation and registration.
The scheme is designed to facilitate regional and international recognition of tertiary qualifications obtained in Solomon Islands and, consequently, to improve the employment prospects of those who obtain such qualifications.
The Authority is proposed to be used as the vehicle for refocusing funding for tertiary education and skills development on meeting the needs of local, regional and international labour markets and improving accountability and transparency in funding decisions.
MONDAY 6TH MARCH 2017
Parliament has passed the Pacific Games 2023 Bill 2016 on Monday the 27th of February 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs presented this Act in Parliament to provide for the hosting of the Pacific Games 2023.
The object of this Bill is to facilitate the hosting of the Pacific Games 2023 in Honiara. The Bill establishes the administrative structure for the organization and hosting of the Games, including establishing an oversight Authority, an organizing Committee and a Facilities Committee. It provides for the management of funds and non-financial assets required to host the Games, and provides for the protection of intellectual property relating to the Games.
The Bill has been drafted to comply with the requirements of the Pacific Games Charter and the host contract between the Pacific Games Council and the Solomon Islands Government.
The Bill has gone through the Committee stage with amendments and finally passed in third reading.
THURSDAY 23TH FEBRUARY 2017
Parliament has passed the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Thursday the 23rd of February 2017.
It is an ACT to amend the Wildlife Protection and Management Act of 1998 to comply with obligations imposed under the Convention on International Trade in endangered species of Wild flora and fauna, and for related matters.
When winding up his speech in reply, the Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology and MP for Gao Bugotu Hon. Samuel Manetoali said the process to come up with the amendments began in 2014.
Minister Manetoali told Parliament that the amendment process went through wider stakeholder consultations within NGO’s, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and other government agencies.
The main objects of the Bill is to amend the Wildlife Protection and Management Act 1998 to enable Solomon Islands to fully implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Solomon Islands has been a party to CITES since 2007.
While the current Act purports to bring Solomon Islands into compliance with CITES, it fails to do so. CITES regulates trade in a wide range of species, whereas the ACT regulates trade in domestic species only.
The Act appears to be mainly concerned with regulating the export of domestic species. CITES requires Solomon Islands to also regulate the import of CITES species that are not native to Solomon Islands.
Also, the requirements for permitting the import and export of species, which are outlined in CITES, are not enshrined in the Act as it stands.
The amendments to the Act will ensure that Solomon Islands is fully compliant with its obligations under CITES.
The Bill passed through the Committee of the whole House without amendments.
THURSDAY 23TH FEBRUARY 2017
Parliament has passed the Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Tuesday the 21st of February after it went through the committee stage without amendments.
The object of this Bill is to amend the Adoption Act 2004 to protect children who are the subject of adoption for by non-residents of Solomon Islands. The Bill does this by outlining the requirements for such an adoption and by prohibiting the removal of the Solomon Island children for adoption outside of Solomon Islands without an order of the Court.
Reiterating this on the floor of Parliament is the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs and Member of Parliament for Ulawa Ugi Hon. William Bradford Marau.
“Mr Speaker the intention of the Bill is straight forward, it is just to improve certain provisions in the current Adoption Act 2004”
Minister Marau added that the Bill updates the current principle Act in three main areas. One is the replacement of the word infant by inserting the word child. This he explained is to qualify age category so that any children from one month to 18 years old can be covered under the term Child.
“This is consistent with international terms and other laws that Solomon Islands have already passed”
The second important changes that the Minister highlighted was in clause eight on the current principle Act which provides for inter-country Adoption.
Hon. Marau told Parliament that “there has to be a report coming from the Adoption authority from country of residence of applicant parents which the current law does not have”
He said this is to give further protection against the possibilities of child trafficking in the country.
The Justice Minister explained that clause 8 of the Bill has put in place a strict criteria for any parents overseas who wanted to adopt any local child in the country.
“It has to has a supporting document attesting to the suitability that parents are safe enough to care for any child where they wanted to adopt in the Solomon Islands”
Minister Marau added that, there’s a penalty increase for parents who have breach an offence during the course of application for adoption.
“An adoption to be awarded to any parents from overseas have to be approved by the High Court, and if that adoption go without the approval of the High Court then there’s a penalty increased for that compared to the principle Act which isn’t adequate enough”
MPs who have contributed on the Bill supported the Bill despite sharing their views to further cement few loopholes in parts of the clauses.
This is the fourth Bill that Parliament has passed so far in this current 5th meeting of the 10th Parliament.
The copy of the Bill can be sighted in this website for your read.