TUESDAY 6TH OCTOBER 2015
The Parliamentary Police, National Security and Correctional Services Committee are conducting Inquiries in the Western Region as of yesterday the 5th of October 2015 on the issue of “Solomon Islands Western Border National Security and Threat and Police integrity Deterioration.”
The Committee has resolved to enquire into and report on this issue of Border Security, threat and Police Integrity on the 1st of May 2015.
At this inquiry, the Committee will:
Their first inquiry was in Gizo yesterday and will continue to Choiseul Province, Parts of Shortland and Munda.
A team of six Committee Members and seven Parliamentary Officials travelled down to the Western Provincial Capital on Sunday the 4th of October 2015.
Committee Members Include: Hon. Manasseh Maelanga – Chairman (Ag) and Committee members are: Hon Jimmy Lusibaea, Hon Namson Tran, Hon Charles Sigoto, Hon Christopher Laore and Hon David Tome.
The Secretariat are: Mr Wilson Orisi – Committee Secretary, Mr Marson Lilopeza – Committee Secretary, Ms Vanessa Rodie – Committee Secretary , Ms Salome Pilumate – Committee Secretary/Admin, Mr Sunjay Dhari – IT and Technical Officer
On their return to Honiara, they will again conduct a two days follow up hearing in Gizo for provincial officers, police, women and community representatives.
The team will return to Honiara before Parliament meets on the 15th of October 2015 and will report to Parliament when the report is ready.
MONDAY 5TH OCTOBER 2015
Parliament will convene for its third meeting on Thursday the 15th of October 2015.
This is the 3rd meeting of the tenth Parliament.
Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Mr. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu has received a copy of the notice to the Governor General from the Prime Minister confirming the date of the meeting.
So far no Government Bill has yet reached Parliament, but it is expected that a number of Bills would be brought before Parliament at this meeting.
In its previous meeting in April, Parliament has passed 2 Bills. They were the 2015 Appropriation Bill 2015 and the Fisheries Management Bill 2015.
Motions that were brought before the House are: The Address of thanks to the Governor General’s speech given to Parliament and the motion of appreciation for the UNDP Parliamentary Strengthening Programme that ended in March this year.
The Clerk and the staff of the National Parliament Office are now preparing for the meeting, especially the Bills and Legislation Committee who will be calling stakeholders for hearings on certain Bills that will come before the House before they are being debated and passed.
TUESDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2015
Stakeholders of the workshop on Parliamentary Committee system that was conducted at the Parliament House last week had expressed the need to build close working relations with Parliamentary Committees.
Stakeholders come from the Judiciary and State Own Enterprises sectors. This includes the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Public Solicitor, Magistrate Court, High Court, Attorney General’s Chambers, Law Reform Unit, Ministry of Police and Correctional Service, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
The program begins with opening remarks from the Clerk to National Parliament, Mr Clezy Rore and continued with presentations from the staff of Parliament on the following topics:
1. Roles and functions of Parliament
One of the highlights was the question of what role these Government Offices and SOE’s have play in the committee system and if there is a need for a closer working relationship between stakeholders and the committees.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Mr Edmond Sikua said the role of the Ministry of Police and National Security within the Police and National Security Committee in Parliament is important.
He said it is high time the Ministry must work together with Parliamentary Committees, especially the Police and National Security Committee and the Public Accounts Committee; so that issues pertaining to National Security and Budgets can be raised directly to Parliament.
“Involving the Ministry upfront in the whole process is important so that we can properly budget for issues that are important to the work of police and correctional services, so that the security of our people is properly taken care of,” he said.
All along, Government Ministries, State Own Enterprises and other Organizations do not see the linkage between them and Parliamentary Committees; therefore, they do not fully utilize it.
Currently, there are ten Standing Committees in Parliament. They are:
• Public Accounts Committee
Others such as the Attorney General who was also a stakeholder at the workshop shared his concern around the areas of implementing recommendations in committee reports that are tabled in Parliament.
He highlighted the case of the Short Bus Routes inquiries that were carried out by a Special Committee in 2013 as a challenging example, and asked if there are any existing mechanisms to ensure that these recommendations are carried out.
One of the Committee Secretaries who did a presentation on this segment clarified that it is the role of government Ministries to act upon these recommendations and although these Committees have no direct influence over the implementation part, there are avenues Parliament can use to ensure recommendations are implemented.
Parliament through the work of Committees see issues and inquire into them through public hearings to gather information and put together in a report with recommendations to Parliament.
These reports with recommendations are tabled in Parliament and it is expected that Government through its responsible Ministries take action to implement them.
FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2015
The Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) in collaboration with the Office of the Auditor General and the Committee Secretariat of the National Parliament successfully conducted a one day intensive workshop on financially oversight for PAC and PEC members at the Paul Tovua Complex Conference Center on Wednesday 16 July.
The workshop aimed at getting the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Expenditure Committee (PEC) to bolster their scrutiny role when reviewing public funds in an uniformed and high standard auditing practice.
“You have been tasked to this vital role on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands” the Speaker added.
The Speaker told the committee members the initiative and commitment taken by the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) in providing support to the Public Accounts Committees in the Pacific region is of high importance and very beneficial.
The one day practicum saw PASAI Advocatore, Eroni Vatuloka and Auditor General (Acting), Robert Cohen took turns in their presentations and discussions for the MPs. This includes general discussions on PASAI’s roles, PASAI accountability and transparency surveys-role of PAC to improve, Public Accounts Committees and Supreme Audit Institutions in the Pacific region-different types that exist and the unique type in Solomon Islands, Audit opinions on government accounts-what do they mean and what causes the issue of critical ones and challenges over the life of 10th Parliament for the Office of the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee.
PASAI Advocate Eroni Vatuloka thanked the National Parliament’s Secretariat team for their excellent organization of the PAC/PEC workshop.
This was the first PAC workshop that PASAI has been involved in alone compared to what happened in the past where they had collaborated with UNDP (Samoa 2012, Marshall Islands 2014).
“We are indeed grateful for that” uttered Mr. Vatuloka.
He expressed his organization’s appreciation of the successful workshop conducted last week to the Speaker Mr. Ajilon Nasiu, the PAC Chairman Hon. Rick Hou and MPs who were present.
PAC Chairman and MP for Small Malaita Hon. Rick Hou thanked Mr. Vatuloka and (PASAI) for their support in promoting professional auditing workshops for PACs in the Pacific region in which Solomon Islands is now part of.
“We are looking forward to work closely with PASAI in the future” Hon. Hou explained.
The Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (PASAI) is the official association of supreme audit institutions (government audit offices and similar organisations, known as SAIs) in the Pacific region.
PASAI is supported by the Asian Development Bank, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, the International Association of Supreme Audit Institutions Development Initiative, and the World Bank.
FRIDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER 2015
The National Parliament office will now be able to purchase a new Hansard Production System for its Hansard department after having signed a Service Contract Agreement of AUD$246,000 with an Australian software installation company, Oconics Pty Ltd.
The contract was signed on 15 September at the Parliament Conference room in Honiara by the Oconics CEO, Jonathan Ruckert, and Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Clezy Rore.
A two-member team from the Oconics held a two days requirements and information gathering workshop with the Hansard Department, the ICT and Library and Research officers. The two days workshop is for Oconics to get a better overview of the environment in which the HPS will operate here in Parliament, better understand the products that Hansard produces, how hansard functions and what processes, workflow and components needed to be able to produce hansard products.
Oconics is an Australian owned company that was established in 2004 with its primary focus on software development. They have wider depth and experience to the business with the inclusion of network, server and communications expertise.
Oconics has proven experience in delivering and supporting mission critical software applications in Parliaments, Government departments/agencies and the private sector, and providing and managing networks for the private sector.
THURSDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 2015
Young Women’s Parliamentary Group (YWPG) congratulates the Honourable Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on his stand for West Papua’s human rights and sovereignty issues.
YWPG is pleased that the Hon. PM has made a firm stand on West Papua’s plight for freedom and desire to be a sovereign nation as other Pacific Islands nations.
The group understands that Solomon Islands as a nation is now standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Vanuatu and Samoa to support West Papua in its struggle.
In its support, YWPG marched to start its “Free West Papua” campaign early this year during the International Women’s Day on Tuesday 10th March 2015.
YWPG applauds champion politicians such as Hon. Derrick Manu’ari, and now the Hon. Matthew Wale and PM Sogavare for bringing the concerns of West Papua’s struggle into the government’s diplomatic circle.
On this note, YWPG also applauds both civic and church leaders, groups such as Solomon Islands in Solidarity for West Papua, and the countless citizens who have made West Papua a household name in Solomon Islands.
MONDAY 7TH SEPTEMBER 2015
The National Parliament of Solomon Islands Parliament (NPSI) has joined seven other Pacific Island Legislatures to establish a Public Accounts Committees (PAC) network.
This is possible through a recent meeting in Wellington, New Zealand.
The aim of the network is to improve the capacity of parliaments in the pacific to hold governments to account for their use and management of public finances.
Over the two days intensive deliberation led by development partner representatives from the World Bank Group, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UNDP and the New Zealand Parliament- parliamentary PAC Chairmen and Committee Clerks from eight pacific legislatures discussed their common challenges and experiences in performing their parliamentary scrutiny roles.
The participating countries also outlined activities that may provide information and knowledge sharing opportunities for them including regular conferences and meetings that will focus on identified activities. These activities includes peer-to-peer knowledge transfer and skill development (potentially evolving to peer-exchange and peer-assist support); discussions on common challenges; development of work practices, including publications of templates for review and reporting; practical research on PAC mandates, powers and membership with a view to setting Pacific benchmarks and advocacy for accountability , transparency and anti-corruption issues.
In his opening remarks, the Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, Rt. Hon David Carter concurs that Pacific Legislatures face challenges specific to their size, capacity and geographic isolations. However, the exchange of ideas and professional development is inevitably necessary for building a stronger parliament and committee. He concluded that an effective, independent and transparent parliament at play ensures better policy and budget outcome that will benefit the public.
Hence, such opportunities are reforms geared at strengthening financial scrutiny and improving performances, by setting standards and mobilizing support for financial oversight committees in the pacific. This will ensure that the understanding and capacity of PAC members and their support staff are strengthened. Support is also rallied on fine- tuning the relationships between PACs and the Offices of the Auditor General. Together, a collated assurance can be established in that the accountability performances of parliaments are harnessed appropriately.
Solomon Islands representatives to this 2nd meeting of the PACs in Wellington were the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Hon. Rick Hou and PAC Secretary Mrs. Jasmine Waleafea.
FRIDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2015
The Environmental and Conservation Committee (ECC) of the National Parliament organized a series of consultation meetings for its important key stakeholders (Government Ministries and Honiara City Council) with an initiative of building a close relationship with them.
This series of consultations started on Thursday 27th August last week and continued on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September this week at the Parliament’s Paul Tovua Conference room.
Director of Committees at the National Parliament and secretary to ECC, Mr. Marson Lilopeza, made brief presentations on the roles and functions of the Committee and how important the Committee can assist and better engaged its stakeholders to best contribute to the Parliamentary process at the beginning of each session. This is followed by presentations from the stakeholders with questions and discussions towards the end.
Chairman of the Environmental and Conservation Committee, Hon. Dr. Culwick Togamana, says these consultations have allowed his Committee to explain their roles and functions to their stakeholders as mandated by Parliament.
Hon. Dr. Togamana added that this will also set aside his Committee’s imperative stakeholders to be informed on their functions and roles in relation to environment and to build on areas for future alliance amid the Environment and Conservation Committee in terms of providing effective Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny.
The ECC Chairman further explained that at the end of the consultations, relevant Government ministries and other stakeholders are expected to understand the Committee’s responsibility on environmental issues. Thus, they too need to have coordination between the Committee and other related government Ministries.
“We will come up with better arrangements on how we can work together and engage each other in future programs relating to issues affecting our environment” The Chairman Clarified.
The consultations has enlightened key identified stakeholders such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Forest and Research, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification and the Environment Division of the Honiara City Council to assist the Environmental and Conservation Committee (ECC) in identifying some proposed improvements needed on the existing legislations or regulations to be aligned with the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management legislations.
The series of consultation meetings is expected to end on Friday 4th September 2015.
WEDNESDAY 2ND SEPTEMBER 2015
The Parliamentary Civic Department has successfully completed its second education outreach program for schools in East Guadalcanal from 24th to 28th August 2015.
The Civic team took a one week outreach program to Burns Creek Adventist High School, Lungga Community High, Nguvia Community High School, Ghaobata Community High School and Betivatu Community High.
Both students and teachers of the schools visited were very fanatical to learn more about the functions of Parliament as the Legislative arm of government. The topics presented include;
1. The three arms of the state
Chief Parliamentary Civic Education Officer and Team leader Ms Marisa Pepa make clarifications at times on issues raised by students and teachers that are too political but relatively related to the work of Members of Parliament. This includes issues on the popular MPs free tax policy, motion of no confidence that resulted in having a Prime Minister not serving a term (4 years) in Office and the political party system.
However, the exciting part of the educational tour was the group activities in which students and teachers were part of. Students were asked by the team to answer questions based on the topics being presented. The activities enable teachers and students of the schools to fully understand the presentation by the team. .
“Leaders will only fulfill the motto to “Lead is to Serve” if they better perform their roles as Representatives of the people, their roles as legislators and their roles in scrutinizing legislations”
“We really appreciate your presentations, it further our knowledge on our Parliamentary system”
“I think my school is the least school for such visits from any high Offices in the country. We were often left out but now I’m very happy that you have selected us this time round” he said.