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Parliament Staff Conclude Parliamentary Outrigger Workshop; Ombudsman Bill Passed;

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

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Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

WEDNESDAY 9TH AUGUST 2017

At the adjournment of Parliament on Wednesday 2nd August 2017, the current 6th meeting of the 10th Parliament has then stand adjourned until Monday the 21st of August 2017.

The special adjournment motion was moved by the Hon. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare based on the following reasons:

  • That the cabinet will bring a supplementary appropriation which is still being develop awaiting cabinet’s finalization before presenting to PAC for their task of scrutiny which will take a number of days to hear all line ministries and other stakeholders
  • Also a very big event on the 75th Anniversary of the landing of the Allied forces on our shores which began on the 5th of August and we’re expecting high ranking military and naval officials from both United states and Australia hence government will engage in a number of activities for this program
  • Also the Prime Minister has got an invitation from the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the 11th of this month for a week’s state visit during which time the security treaty will be executed between Solomon Islands and Australia. This is to discuss the arrangement if something goes wrong or issues within our own security then they will still come to our assistance despite RAMSI’s departure.

The Leader of opposition Hon Jeremy Manele in reply said he does not have any difficulties in supporting the motion of special adjournment but supported the reasons alluded to by the PM as straight forward and genuine.

Hon. Manele added that as a member of the PAC they will also need time to conduct hearings on the proposed supplementary appropriation.

Hon. Manele further explained that most members of Parliament will also be engaged as well on the Anniversary program to commemorate the landing of the Allied forces on our shores 75 years ago during the World War 2.

He finally stated that the Prime Minister’s state visit to Australia on the 11th of August is also very important as both leaders will discuss matters concerning our country’s security.

The motion was therefore passed and Parliament will resume on Monday 21st August as a result of the special adjournment moved by Hon. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

MONDAY 7 AUGUST 2017

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A team of three officers of the Parliamentary Civic Unit (PCEU) of the National Parliament conducted Parliament Education awareness program to the people of Guadalcanal on the province’s 33rd second appointed day and weaving festival at Lela beach on Tuesday 1st August 2017.

This outreach program is part of the PCEU Education and Outreach program of the National Parliament aiming to educate and inform rural citizens in the provinces or public gatherings on the functions of Parliament, roles of Members of Parliament, separation of powers and professional supporting services of Parliament.

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Men, women, boys and girls who attended the event flocked the Parliament stall in numbers as they were eager to learn more about our Parliamentary democracy.

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The openness and charming conduct of the Director of PCEU resulted in more school children of both primary and secondary schools frequently visited the stall and pamphlets almost ran out.

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Adding more insights on the awareness program was the screening of the Parliament DVD which summed up all about our Parliamentary democracy, which include clips on functions of Parliament, responsibilities of MPs and professional supporting services of Parliament.

“This is regarded as a special occasion for ordinary Solomon Islanders in this regard for Guadalcanal people to hear from parliament what their MPs are doing in the big round house at Vavaya Ridge”, Director of Civic Mr. Patteson Lusi said.

Furthermore, Mr. Lusi said the outreach program enabled PCEU team to promote the rich and valuable information on our Parliamentary democracy to Guadalcanal constituents and vice versa, made the civic team to mingle, interact and learn in depth unique cultures and customs of the people at the Guadalcanal Weaving Festival.

Mr Lusi finally acknowledged the Clerk Mr. Clezy Rore, executive and staff of Parliament for the permission and support rendered to PCED to educate men, women, boys and girls at the celebration of the 2nd appointed day of Guadalcanal Province and weaving festival at Lela Beach last Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward for similar cooperation at future public gathering” Mr Lusi said.

The weaving festival officially ended on Monday 7th August 2017.

TUESDAY 1st AUGUST 2017

Deputy Speaker to National Parliament, Hon Andrew Manepora proposed that a Parliamentary Standing Committee be establish to oversee the implementation of the twenty year National Development Strategy (NDS) when debating the NDS in Parliament on Monday 31st July 2017.

He said, this is to keep governments in focus when preparing their budgets and to ensure that it reflects what is transpired in the document.

He said Members of Parliament and governments will change in 20 years’ time, but a Standing Committee will ensure that the document survives over time and will keep successive governments in focus to get the document implemented in its life’s span.
“That is why I proposed that having a Committee in Parliament to oversee the implementation of this document is very important, because governments may change but a Standing Committee will always remain here to oversee how we implement this document in line with government priorities, programmes and budgets.”

He adds that the committee can ensure that National fiscal and monetary policies are reviewed each year against budget allocations to ensure that broad-based economic development are enhance to facilitate growth in this economy.
Although Central Bank is doing monitoring of the monitory policy and Ministry of Finance is doing the fiscal policy, sometimes, the two are not well coordinated and do not go towards achieving the same goal.

“So having a Committee within Parliament to oversee that broad fiscal policy and monetary policy are harness together to achieve Broad Economic Growth so that it facilitate growth within the economy will form the basis for achieving the NDS,” Hon Manepora explained.

The National Parliament of Solomon Islands currently have ten Parliamentary Standing Select Committees.
Standing Select Committees are appointed under the Standing Orders. From time to time, a Standing Select Committee reports to Parliament on the issues and matters that it was assigned.

ENDS///

TUESDAY 1st AUGUST 2017

National Development Strategy (NDS) 2016 – 2035 maps out a strategic direction for the future development of Solomon Islands, said Minister of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Hon. Danny Philip when moving the motion to consider the Strategy on Monday 31st July 2017.

Hon. Philip said, the NDS focuses on two key areas; social and economic livelihoods, hence it’s National Vision, “Improving the Social and Economic Livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders.”

He further said that the NDS recognizes that the key to growth and progress of the people of this country lies within sustainable economic development.
He guaranteed that the NDS has been developed in a consultative process over the period June 2015 to March 2016. That was the period an initial strategic framework document was developed with government institutions, analysis of the previous NDS 2011 – 2020, sector plans, provincial plans and Ministry Corporate plans.

A nationwide participatory process was undertaken that provided feedback.
Consultations involved government ministries and agencies, provinces, development partners, private sector, NGOs, church groups and communities including chiefs, elders, and women and youths in all provinces hence, the consultation process ensured wider participation and instilled a sense of ownership of all stakeholders.

However, Hon. Philip said reforms are key to successful implementation of this NDS. This includes good governance and public sector reforms.

Five key long term NDS Objectives were identified on which development will focus:

1. Sustainable and inclusive economic growth
2. Poverty alleviated across the whole of Solomon Islands, basic needs addressed and food security improved; benefits of development more equitably distributed
3. All Solomon Islanders have access to quality health and education
4. Resilient and environmentally sustainable development with effective disaster risk management, response and recovery
5. Unified nation with stable and effective governance and public order
Successful implementation of the NDS will lead to the following
1. Sustainable and inclusive economic growth
2. Increased investment opportunities for all Solomon Islanders
3. Alleviation of poverty and improved food security
4. Sustainable environment, contributing to climate change mitigation
5. Provision of adequate, accessible and quality social services, basic needs, infrastructure and utilities for all Solomon Islanders

Meanwhile, a good number of Members of Parliament participated in the debate and have made very valuable contributions, also reminding themselves as leaders that the success of the document also rests on them as leaders for its implementation. This includes proper planning, focus and budgeting.

Implementation of the NDS in the medium term involves two parallel development and reform agendas;

i) Sector interventions, activities and reforms that will encourage development of the productive sector, resource sector, social sector and development sectors and

ii) Fundamental reforms which will redefine the norms and values of the Solomon Islands society to become more inclusive to enhance sustainable unity and improve governance including the public service, judiciary and national security

The medium term priority strategies and activities for the first five years of the NDS are included in a medium Term Development Plan (MTDP), a 5 year rolling development plan. (See 2016 – 2035 NDS on Parliament website for detailed on NDS objectives)
ENDS///

MONDAY 31 JULY 2017

Parliament passed the Ombudsman Bill on Wednesday 26th July 2017 without amendments after Parliament commenced this sixth meeting on the 24th of July 2017.

The Bill is an Act to provide for matters related to the office and powers of the Ombudsman, to repeal the Ombudsman ( Further Provisions) Act ( CAP.88), and for related purposes.

The objects of the bill are:

  1. To repeal and replace the current Ombudsman( Further Provisions) Act to give effect to the Constitutional independence and mandate of the office of the Ombudsman in an improved manner;
  2. To ensure there is continuity in the functions of the Ombudsman even in cases where the position of the Ombudsman is vacant;
  3. To ensure there is more responsiveness on the part of prescribed persons and bodies in relation to implementing the recommendations of the Ombudsman;
  4. To provide more transparency, accountability and protection from arbitrary and unfair decisions by prescribed persons or bodies against citizens and residents of Solomon Islands.

This is the first Bill to be passed in this sixth meeting of the 10th Parliament.

Meanwhile Parliament also consider a report on the ‘Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) 2003 – 2017 through a motion moved by the Prime Minister.

The report, a joint report by the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI on the 14-year intervention was considered and passed through the committee of the whole house.

TUESDAY 25TH JULY 2017

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A total of 60 Officers from the National Parliament Office, Office of the Leader of Opposition and the Independent Office successfully concluded a two day Outrigger workshop on gender equality from July 19th and 20th respectively at the Paul Tovua Complex.

Dubbed as the first ever in the Pacific region, the gender workshop was jointly hosted by the National Parliament, Solomon Islands Government and Australia Government through Ausaid and Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership.

It came about after both Clerk to Parliament Clezy Rore and the Director of Parliamentary Civic Education Department Patteson Lusi attended a Pacific Parliamentary workshop jointly hosted by the Federal Parliament of Australia for Clerks and trainers of Pacific Parliaments in November last year.

Clerk to Parliament Clezy Rore told participants at the official opening that one of the recommendation was for Pacific Parliaments to organize workshop or conference on educating Members of Parliament and staff of Parliament on the global concern of gender equality and its relationship to Parliament and politics in the Pacific.

“And I’m proud to announce that Solomon Islands Parliament is the first in the region to organize the Parliamentary workshop after the training workshop held in Canberra last year” the Clerk proudly stated.

With the theme “The Outrigger Navigating Gender Equality through Pacific Parliaments”, the two day workshop allowed both the facilitators and participants to share thoughtful discussions and views on the general understanding of gender.

It had also enhanced and increased knowledge of participants in analyzing and discussing gender issues and its relationship to Parliament and Politics in the Solomon Islands.

Participants have found out in great detail during the workshop that gender equality was not just about women and girls but moreover about equality and equity for both sexes.

Speaker of the National Parliament Mr. Ajilon Nasiu said hosting of this workshop is timely as it also allows participants to explain how gender equality can be translated into the work programs and activities of all the departments of Parliament.

“The workshop is very timely as one of the new concept in cooperated in our 5 years strategic development plan of National Parliament is the gender component in most of the outputs of professional departments of our Parliament” The Speaker explained.

Mr. Nasiu said he has full confidence with his officers who had completed the 2 days module and he believes they will definitely assist Parliament in guiding and directing Members of Parliament on how they influence or make sound decisions on challenges or problems relating to gender equality and legislature.

Mr. Nasiu further added that the current DCCG Government is a strong supporter of gender to address problems and challenges relating to gender and human rights in the country and abroad.

This first ever regional funded workshop was facilitated by staffs of the Parliamentary Civic Education Department and the Clerk of National Parliament, who had attended Parliamentary trainer workshops at both the Bee Hive Parliament in New Zealand in 2015 and Federal Parliament of Australia in Canberra in 2016 respectively.

The official opening was also graced with the presence of the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands His Excellency Roderick Brazier and the Speaker of the National Parliament Ajilon Nasiu.

Another gender workshop that will target our Members of Parliament and champion MPs in the region is expected to happen in September later this year.

FRIDAY 21 JULY 2017

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Staffs from the National Parliament of Solomon Islands have recently undergone Professional Development Trainings facilitated and co-funded by the UNDP Pacific Parliamentary Effective Initiatives and the New Zealand Government’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Program.

This trainings for Committees in Parliament was hosted by the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea, as part of its preparations for the upcoming 10th Parliament’s Inductions Program. Topics discussed during the sessions includes; (a) Introductions to Parliamentary Committees, (b) an Overview of issues facing Committees in Papua New Guinea (c) ensuring Committee’s Systems are Effective (d) Procedural and Administrative Support (e) Research Services for Committees (f) the roles of the Chair and Committee Clerk (g) the Conductions of an Inquiry and (h) planning.

Facilitators at the trainings were the PPEI Coordinators and Committee Clerks from Papua New Guinea Twinned Parliaments - Queensland and Fiji. Guest Facilitators and Resources people were Committee Clerks secured from Trinidad & Tobago, New Zealand and Solomon Islands Parliament respectively.

In her opening remarks, the Deputy UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Tracy Vienings reiterated that Committees are the engine rooms for parliamentary scrutiny, hence it must be well staffed and resourced. Attending to the program were: Mr. Gregory Fineanganofo secretary for the Environmental & Conservation Committee and Public Expenditure Committee; Mr. Whitmon Tabiru, secretary to the Foreign Relations Committee and Mrs. Jasmine Waleafea, Committee Clerk to the Public Accounts Committee.

MONDAY 17TH JULY 2017

Presiding Officers and Clerks (including spouses) from Australia and Pacific Parliaments pose for a group photo. (Photo courtesy of NSW Parliament)
Presiding Officers and Clerks (including spouses) from Australia and Pacific Parliaments pose for a group photo. (Photo courtesy of NSW Parliament)

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Ajilon Nasiu, the Clerk Mr. Clezy Rore and the Deputy Clerk Mr. David Kusilifu recently attended the 48th Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference (POCC) in Sydney, Australia. The conference was hosted by the Parliament of New South Wales from Monday 3 to Friday 7 July 2017.

The conference provided a forum for the Presiding Officers and Clerks to discuss roles of the Presiding Officer and the Clerk in the Parliamentary institution. Over 80 delegates from 20 Australian and Pacific Nation Parliaments participated in a program of seminars and activities designed to share valuable ideas and experiences of parliamentary practice and procedure.

Clerk to Parliament Mr. Clezy Rore speaking during the Conference.
Clerk to Parliament Mr. Clezy Rore speaking during the Conference.

The conference also marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Parliamentary Twinning. Australian and Pacific parliaments that belong to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) participate in a twinning program that provides the opportunity to enhance relations, exchange information and learn from each other. The concept of twinning is similar to the ‘sister city’ relationships that exist between cities of different countries.

The Solomon Islands National Parliament is twinned with the New South Wales Parliament and the Bougainville House of Representatives. Through the Twinning Program the National Parliament has been able to build on and supplement areas within Parliament where capacity and knowledge required strengthening.

The New Zealand Parliament will host the next POC conference in 2018. The National Parliament wishes to thank the Solomon Islands Government and the Australian High Commission for enabling the National Parliament to attend.

MONDAY 14TH JULY 2017

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) commences its inquiry into the 2016 Final Budget Outcome (FBO) report as of Tuesday the 11th July and is expected to spill over next week at the National Parliament Conference room.

This is part of PAC’s planned inquiries into tabled reports from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT) and Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

PAC Chairman, Hon. Rick Hou, stated that the 2016 FBO report has already been tabled by the Minister of Finance and Treasury thus his Committee under section 62 of the Constitution and under orders 69 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders exercises its oversight role to look into the management of appropriated funds.

Besides considering the Recurrent Estimates and the Development Budget as required, the Public Accounts Committee have taken initiatives to conduct Inquiries on Tabled Papers; in particular Solomon Islands Government Financial Audit Report produced by the Office of the Auditor General.

One of the key responsibilities of the Public Accounts Committee is to examine the public accounts prescribed by Section 38 of the Finance and Audit Act 1978 (and Section 77 of the Public Financial Management Act 2013), together with the report of the Auditor General. The PAC can also summon any public officer to give information on any explanation or to produce any records or documents which the committee requests.

The PAC wishes to exercise financial scrutiny on the 2016 Final Budget Outcome report in light of Sections 52 (1) (a) (b) of the Public Finance Management Act 2013.

“I only wish to remind all of us to be truthful and provide constructive remarks, nor defamation for the cause of this Inquiry,” said the Chairman.

“Not adhering to these instructions and Committee expectations, is a contempt to the Committee and Parliamentary privileges,” he added.

Ministries that have already appeared before the committee since the start of inquiry on Tuesday this week include the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination, Ministry of Mines Energy and rural electrification, Ministry of Forestry and Research, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Ministry of Communications and Aviation and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

Other remaining Ministries will follow suit in the coming days.

The recorded sessions of the inquiry will be later broadcasted over SIBC.

MONDAY 10TH JULY 2017

Chairman of the PAC, Hon. Rick Hou with the reps from IMF Asian and Pacific Department Mr. Hidetaka Nishizawa, Ms. Alison Stuart and Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin.
Chairman of the PAC, Hon. Rick Hou with the reps from IMF Asian and Pacific Department Mr. Hidetaka Nishizawa, Ms. Alison Stuart and Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin.

The oversight roles of Parliament can never be more emphasized than through the roles of the Committees. Other conventional procedural tools for oversight are seldom being used as compared to Answers and Questions during Question Time.

However, it is more a daunting task when it comes to financial scrutiny. In the life of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) along with the Public Expenditure Committee (PEC) were given this mandate.

Besides considering the Recurrent Estimates and the Development Budget as required, the Public Accounts Committee have taken initiatives to conduct Inquiries on Tabled Papers; in particular Solomon Islands Government Financial Audit Report produced by the Office of the Auditor General.

Another aspect of providing oversight in a sense for the Committee, is to be part of economical consultations conducted by both local and international financial monitoring institutions. In the process, the Committee does not only lend its views on the management of public, donor funds and private finances, but it also gained insights on the current economical performances locally, regionally and globally.

Earlier in 2017, the Chairman of the PAC involved in two separate consultation processes conducted by the International Monetary Fund and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. It is through the maintenance of such network that legislative financial scrutiny at the National Parliament of Solomon Islands can continuously demonstrate its credible evolution.

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