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Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

TUESDAY 17TH JULY 2018

Speaker of Parliament – Mr Ajilon Nasiu responding on behalf of delegates to the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard - Speaker of NZ House of Representatives during the conference welcome reception.

The Speaker of Parliament Ajilon Nasiu presented a paper on Parliament self-development during the recent Presiding Officers and Clerks Conference (POCC) in early July 2018, Wellington, New Zealand.

The paper highlighted how the National Parliament of Solomon Islands had institutionalized ownership of its own development through the National Parliament strategic plan 2017 – 2021.

It focused on the internal processes setup to operationalize the strategy including challenges faced and lessons learnt.

“For me, one of my favorite aspects of our strategic process is the Management group meeting. The monthly meetings keep me informed on the activities happening at Parliament. This arrangement has brought together my Office, the Office of the Clerk and all departmental heads together on a monthly basis and I found these meetings meaningful, informative and strategic in its scope”, said Mr. Ajilon Nasiu.

Over 60 parliamentarians attended the one week conference, in which delegates presented conference papers on a range of topics including how parliaments can develop and change, the role of the Speaker; and security and stability.

Guest speakers at the conference included Former New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Rt. Hon Helen Clark, and Dr Gill Greer from the National Council of Women, NZ.

The annual conference is for Presiding Officers (Speakers) and Clerks from Parliaments from Australia and the Pacific region. The New Zealand House of Representatives hosted the 49th POCC from 8th to 13th July 2018. The National Parliament wishes to thank the Solomon Islands Government for enabling the Speaker and the Deputy Clerk to attend.

FRIDAY 13TH JULY 2018

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will commence enquiries into four new Bills, starting with the Goods Tax (Amendment) Bill 2018 today (Friday 13 July).

The Good Tax (Amendment) Bill 2018 is an Act enacted by the National Parliament of Solomon Islands to amend the Good Tax Act (Cap.122) in relation to the way the sale value of certain goods is calculated, and for other related purposes.

As stated in the Bill’s objects and reasons, there are strong concerns that persons registered for goods tax purposes are undervaluing goods at the wholesale level to pay less goods tax.

As a tax compliance measure, for goods imported into Solomon Islands, the sale value on which goods tax is applied will be set at an uplifted value to represent the mark-up at the wholesale level. The uplifted value is the customs value of the goods plus the amount of customs duty payable, all uplifted by 130%.

Currently the same uplifted value is used to charge goods tax on goods that are imported for home consumption by an unregistered person or a registered person who does not quote his certificate in respect of the entry.

The Commissioner of Taxation will still be responsible for the collection of Goods Tax from those registered for goods tax. Despite the proposed amendments to the sale value used to determine the goods tax payable on imported goods, the Commissioner will retain the power to determine and where necessary alter the sale value of the goods.

The Bill has 12 Clauses and witnesses that will appear before the BLC include, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, the Comptroller of Customs, the Legal Draftsperson, Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce, Association of Clearance Agents, Chinese Association and Wholesalers Association.

BLC will also conduct hearings for another three new Bills in the coming weeks. These include the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI) Bill 2018, Payment System Bill 2018 and the Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill 2018.

Meanwhile, Parliament meeting will resume on Wednesday next week, after its last adjournment on Monday, April 9, 2018.

WEDNESDAY 4TH JULY 2018

The National Parliament Office has conducted an induction program for Hon. Lanelle Tanangada MP, the newly elected Member of Parliament for Gizo Kolombangara who won the Bye-election on the 23rd May 2018. The induction for Hon. Lanelle Tanagada is of paramount important ahead of the meeting in July 18.

The two days induction program which started off yesterday (3rd July 2018) has been designed by the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for current and newly elected Members to understand greater public leadership, constitutional frameworks, parliamentary procedure, accountability and parliamentary oversight.

It also aims to raise awareness among participating Parliamentarians of key Parliamentary departments, services and facilities structures, functions and obligations in relation to leadership and accountability.

Speaker of the National Parliament Ajilon Nasiu congratulates and welcome Hon. Lanelle Tanagada in his brief remarks to officially open the induction program today.

“It is with great pleasure as Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands in the 10th Parliament to welcome you to this brief induction program”

”I would also like to congratulate you on being one of the two female MP’s in the current house, which is a first in our nation’s history” the Speaker assured Hon. Tanagada.

Speaker Nasiu told the newly elected MP that it is no small feat to represent her people in Parliament; therefore the induction program will help her understand and perform her role as a Member of Parliament.

“We all have important responsibilities and our nation expects us to act with commitment and integrity in fulfilling these responsibilities.” Mr. Nasiu reiterates.

The Speaker then wishes Hon. Tanagada that by the end of the two days induction program, she will increased her understanding of the system of Parliamentary democracy in Solomon Islands and what she can do to ensure Parliament operates effectively in the interests of her own community and the country as a whole.

The informational and participatory sessions and presentations on the core procedures and practical skills such as parliamentary scrutiny and practice are facilitated by Parliament staff (HOD) and local expert and former legal specialist Mr. Albert Kabui.

Hon. Lanelle Tanagada’s first session on Day 1 was with Mr. Albert Kabui on the Constitution and separation of Powers and then briefly wind-up day 1 session with Ms Jean Tema of the Procedure department on Legislature and Roles and functions of Parliament and Parliamentary Law and Practice.

The induction program will conclude today (Wednesday 4th July 2018)

WEDNESDAY 4TH JULY 2018

The Parliamentary Civic Education outreach program at last week’s Kodili festival in Buala was successfully conducted despite being interrupted few times by heavy rain and strong winds.

Isabel men, women, boys and girls which comprised students came in numbers at the Parliament stall and listen attentively with interests to the Civic team’s awareness talks about our Parliamentary democracy and its functions.

Many Isabellians who flooded the Parliament Stall enjoyed the team’s awareness talks and were fully satisfied with the answers given and information shared to them by the team.

Topics that were discussed and shared on brochures include the functions of Parliament, roles of Members of Parliament, separation of powers and professional supporting services of Parliament.

Apart from the awareness talks, people were also engaged in a set of quiz where questions asked were based on the information written in the pamphlets they received.

That was the most interesting part of the awareness talks which drag hundreds each day to the Parliament stall, because people with the right answers were given free t-shirts that have the Parliament Logo, Court of Arms and Kodili Festival written on them.

The quiz part was fun and at the same time educational as it forcefully made the people to actually read all the brochures containing various topics that summarized our Parliamentary democracy.

Member of Parliament for Maringe/Kokota who is also the Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and meteorology Hon. Culwick Togamana has commended the Parliamentary Civic Team’s outreach program to educate and inform rural citizens in the provinces.

“I’m glad that you’re here to educate my people about my main role as a Member of Parliament or as their representative in the round house” Hon. Togamana told the Civic team.

“Most of the time our people regarded us MP’s as their Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) which we are not” Hon. Togamana sternly explained.

“With elections coming up next year people need to know the main roles of Parliament or being a Member of Parliament in order to make informed choices rather than picking on someone who will or acts as their ATM.

Hon. Culwick Togamana together with the Kodili festival Committee therefore invited the Civic team to the main stage where all the kodili activities took place to extend their awareness talks about Parliament and the roles of MP’s there.

Team leader and Chief Civic Education Officer Ms Marisa Pepa took to the main stage and talked to a packed crowd of thousands on the five main roles of Parliament.

The five main roles of Parliament she talked about are:

  1. Law Making - Passes Law for Peace and Good Governance
  2. RepresentationM - Voice of the People (constituents)
  3. Scrutiny and Oversight - Ensures that Executive Arm fulfils its policies
  4. Approves Budget - Approves money for government to provide services to its citizens eg. Schools, Clinics, Roads, Sanitation
  5. Forms Government- After each National General Elections MPs meet at Parliament and the party with the most members forms government, in our case a coalition (more than one party) since we do not have a strong political party system.

After the talks many people whom the team talked to said they do now understand the separation of powers or the three arms of the state and their functions.

“We do now know that Parliament is headed by the Speaker and its priority function is to make or amend laws; the Executive or Government which is headed by the Prime Minister to execute or carry out the law; and the Judiciary which is headed by the Chief Justice to interpret the law”

The Kodili festival committee also thanked the Civic team for accepting their invitation to bring Parliament right down to their shores.

“Your awareness talks did clear our doubts especially for some of us who still think that Parliament is the ruling government and deals with people’s projects” the people exclaimed.

Speaker of Parliament Ajilon Nasiu once said, “It is rewarding experience to engage with the general populace, through various civic activities and outreach program that will make them appreciate the mechanics of parliamentary procedures and processes and how these parliamentary mechanisms provide how the state governs its citizens.”

Taking Parliament to such provincial occasion is very important for ordinary Solomon Islanders to hear from parliament what their MPs are doing in the big round house at Vavaya Ridge.

The outreach program also allowed the CIVIC team to mingle, interact and learn in depth about the unique cultures and customs of the people of Isabel Province at the Kodili Festival.

Funding is the only hindrance for Parliament Civic team to reach out to all 50 constituencies however Parliament through its radio programs also reaches out to the nation at large.

FRIDAY 22ND JUNE 2018

The Parliamentary Civic Education Unit (PCEU) will be taking Parliament down to the people of Isabel during the course of the province’s Kodili festival from 25th to 29th June 2018 in Buala.

The PCEU accepted the invitation to attend the Kodili festival since it is also part of its Education and Outreach program to educate and inform rural citizens in the provinces on the functions of Parliament, roles of Members of Parliament, separation of powers and professional supporting services of Parliament.

Men, women, boys and girls who will attend the festival are also urged to come and flock the Parliament stall in numbers to listen and learn more about our Parliamentary democracy.

To add a bit of excitement during the awareness program will be the screening of the Parliament DVD which will sum up our Parliamentary democracy. This include clips on functions of Parliament, responsibilities of MPs and professional supporting services of Parliament.

Taking Parliament to such a special occasion like Kodili festival is very important for ordinary Solomon Islanders, in this regard for Isabel people to hear from parliament what their MPs are doing in the big round house at Vavaya Ridge.

Furthermore, the outreach program will enable PCEU team to promote the rich and valuable information on our Parliamentary democracy to Isabel constituents and vice-versa to allow the CIVIC team to mingle, interact and learn in depth about the unique cultures and customs of the people of Isabel Province at the Kodili Festival.

Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu once said in one of his speeches, that one of the many challenges of the Solomon Islands 21st century is that majority do not yet understand and appreciate the roles and functions of Parliament.

He said many still think that Parliament is the ruling government, which is not true.
Ajilon said, “As the national constitution outlines well, that there is separation of powers on the three arms of the state. Therefore, in order to understand this separation of powers, it is rewarding experience to engage with the general populace, through various civic activities and outreach program that will make them appreciate the mechanics of parliamentary procedures and processes and how these parliamentary mechanisms provide how the state governs its citizens.”

Last year the PCEU team had also took part in educating men, women, boys and girls about Parliament at the celebration of the 2nd appointed day of Guadalcanal Province and weaving festival.

MONDAY 18TH JUNE 2018

Fifty (50) enthusiastic women across the eight Provinces of the Solomon Islands mostly met as strangers but now leave the Capital more enthused and empowered to participate as candidates in any general election following the fourth Practice Parliament for Women.

The exercise was primarily targeted at women who were considering standing for the National Elections or local elections, women community leaders who wished to develop their leadership, advocacy and policy skills as well as women who have committed to supporting gender equality.

“My participation this week has been quite significant and a lifetime achievement,” said Leader of the Independent MPs for the 2018 Practice Parliament for Women, Senoveva Mauli.

“The discussions during the training, and the level of substance brought out during the Parliamentary debate has been enriching. I am now seriously considering standing for the 2019 national elections after my experience this week.”

The Head of Vois Blo Mere Solomon, Josephine Teakeni, a partner for the Practice Parliament this week was impressed with the caliber of the participants.

“The 50 women participants were so committed throughout the week, and I am just overwhelmed with their preparation and performance at the Practice Parliament session today. I feel that women with the calibre showcased at the Practice Parliament today can and will get voted into Parliament,” said Teakeni.

The five-day event was carried out in two phases with the training and awareness raising carried out in the first four days, and the final day where participants use their newly acquired skills as they play the role of national members of their Parliament.

The Speaker of the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands, Mr. Honourable Ajilon Nasiu, acknowledged the enthusiasm of the participants and highlighted the importance of gender equality.

“Your participation further cements the commitment of the current government ensuring both Parliament and oversight institutions of this country recognize the importance of gender equality in all sectors of the country,” said MrHonourable Nasiu.

“I want to specifically thank the Solomon Islands Government for support towards this workshop. The current SIDCCG Government is a staunch supporter of gender to address problems & challenges relating to gender & human rights in this country and the pacific region.”

Adding her sentiments, the UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager, Azusa Kubota, echoed the need for more women to participate in the democratic process and highlighted the innate ability of women to think more about the collective as a mark of quality leadership.

“In 15 of the Pacific countries where the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works, there are only 42 women MPs out of 559 MPs altogether. This represents 7.5% representation. When women represent 50% of the society, this does not sound right,” she said.

“Women are often care takers in the family and communities. Women always put others interests before theirs. Women always think about collective good rather than individual gain.”

She added, “women therefore naturally have the quality to serve the people and represent the people in the Parliament.”

In selecting the participants, special efforts were made to target women leaders from outside of Honiara municipality/province, as well as targeting special groups.

The Practice Parliament for Women in the Solomon Islands was made possible through the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji funding through two Pacific regional projects under the Effective Governance programme, namely the Strengthening Legislatures in the Pacific Island Countries Project (SLIP) Project funded by the Government of Japan, and the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI), funded by the Government of New Zealand.

National partners for the event were the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, the Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs, the National Council of Women, Vois Blo Mere, Women’s Rights Action Movement, UNWomen and the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group.

TUESDAY 22 MAY 2018

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) successfully concluded a three days hearing into the Electoral Bill 2018 and the Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral) Bill 2018 on Thursday 17th May 2018.

Both Bills were heard together by BLC from Tuesday 15th May to Thursday 17th May 2018 with Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC), Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs, Legal Draftsperson, Political Parties Commission, Representatives of registered Political Parties, Transparency Solomon Islands, National Council of Women (NCW) and a retired MP and Former Prime Minister Sir Francis Billy Hilly.

The Electoral Bill 2018 is a proposed law to regulate the registration of electors and the election of members of the National Parliament and for related purposes.

Its objects and reasons are to repeal and replace the National Parliament Electoral Provisions Act (Cap.87), to improve the registration system of electors, to further regulate nomination process of candidates, to further improve the conduct of voting, to improve the counting process and to ensure there is a comprehensive range of electoral offences with appropriate penalties.

The Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018 is to amend the Constitution in relation to electoral matters.

Its objects and reasons are to provide an additional requirement that a candidate for election be a registered elector and to allow an Act to prescribe the term “ordinarily resident”; furthermore, to provide for a 12 month stand down period for a member of the Electoral Commission or staff to involved in the election process if he or she intends to stand as a candidate.

The Bill also caters for the increase of membership of the Electoral Commission to 5 members who will also deal with registration of political parties currently undertaken by the Political Parties Commission under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.

It also aims to establish a new position of Commissioner of Elections as the administrative head of the office responsible for elections and will also act as the Registrar for Political Parties under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.

Details of the Electoral Bill 2018 and the Constitutional (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018 can be accessed on the 'What’s new in Parliament' column.

Currently the BLC under the Chairmanship of Hon. Matthew Wale has already deliberated on the following Bills;

  • The Anti-Corruption Bill 2017
  • The Electoral Bill 2018 and
  • The Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) 2018

BLC is planning to deliberate on the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority Bill 2018 starting on Tuesday, 22nd March 2018.

Bills that are still before the House to consider include:

  • The Strata Titles Bill 2017
  • The Legal Profession Bill 2017; and
  • The Whistle-blowers Protection Bill 2016

TUESDAY 22ND MAY 2018

The recent 4 day inquiry to the Western province by the Education and Human Resources Training Committee from the 7th to the 11th of May 2018 was deemed a success.

The visiting delegation, headed by the Chairman and MP for East Makira, Hon. Alfred Ghiro, includes Committee members; Hon. Matthew Wale, (MP, Aoke/Langalanga), Hon. Derek Sikua, (MP, North East Guadalcanal), Hon. Dickson Mua, (MP, Savo/ Russell) accompanied by the Committee Secretariat of the National Parliament.

The Committee’s visit to the Western Province was a continuation of its Inquiry instigated in 2016 on the quality of training undertaken by our medical practitioners.

Underlined issues of types and relevance of training, standards of certification and qualifications, in-service training plans and scheme, including other matters relating to trainings and practical certification were emphasized during the course of the hearing held at the Helena Goldie Nursing College on Tuesday 8th May 2018.

Student representatives and faculty of the Nursing College, as well as the staff of Helena Goldie Hospital appeared before the Committee. These witnesses expressed concerns on issues the college and the hospital have been facing for many years. Some of the concerns include negligence and lack of support from relevant stakeholders.

Issues pertaining to the suspension of the Helena Goldie School of Nursing by the Nursing Council hinges on the need to upgrade the teaching curriculum and anticipated, improvements and provisions of an adequate Infrastructure.

There have been financial struggles since the college started their Diploma in nursing program in 2010. These problems have affected class schedules and reduced the possibility for the college to have new student intakes.

Speaking to Parliament media on the pressing matter of opportunities for further studies and scholarships, Thadeus Siota, a long serving registered nurse in Helena Goldie said that the importance and urgency for these upgrades to take place has been a desperate cry for help by the college since 2008.

“We are in a situation where we don’t even know what comes next in terms of scholarships or opportunities to further our studies as our students are also being ignored by responsible authorities”

Mr Siota further raised that most of the opportunities and scholarships that come through these authorities do not reach them.

The EHRT Committee later made site visits to the Helena Goldie hospital and College facilities on Wednesday the 9th to establish the concerns and outcries emphasized during its one day hearing.

The Committee later headed to Gizo on the 10th for a site visit to the Gizo Hospital.

Whilst in Gizo the EHRT Committee also paid a courtesy visit to the Western Provincial Assembly and raised the highlighted concerns from both health institutes and suggestted development plans for a better working relation between Helena Goldie and Gizo Hospital with all its stakeholders.

Presented at the meeting were the Deputy Premier, Hon. Malloney Lapoto, Provincial Assembly Speaker, Mr. Richard Tekefono and the Provincial Secretary to the Western Provincial Executive, Mr. Jeffery Wickham.

The Provincial representative also noted the urgency of concerns raised and assured the visiting Committee of their plans to adequately support these two provincial health institutes and pledged their cooperation’s to assist the EHRT Committee in resolving and implementing on its findings and recommendations.

A scheduled visit by the Health Committee will be due for a visit to Gizo, with a date to be set later in June.

The delegation departed Munda for Honiara on Friday the 11th of May.

THURSDAY 10TH MAY 2018

HE. Roderick Brazier (center) and staff of the National Parliament Office during the short handing over ceremony at the National Parliament House, Honiara.

The Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands HE. Roderick Brazier handed over a bunch of ICT equipment to the Speaker of National Parliament Ajilon Jasper Nasiu in a brief handing-over ceremony on Friday 4th May 2018.

The ICT equipment comprised of 2 Dell XPS Laptop, a Systematic endpoint protection software, 2 VuPoint Portable (handheld) Scanner and a Marantz PMD670 Digital Audio Recorder.

An application was made Last year by the National Parliament Office to the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships Fund to purchase the equipment and to fund 30 staff to do the English Grammar Course (in country training) this year.
The Australian Federal Parliament in Canberra accepted both request for equipment and training. The equipment was presented to Parliament by the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands H.E. Roderick Brazier on behalf of the Australian Government.

Purposely the equipment received will best serve the required ICT needs of the Parliament mission statement who want to strive to become a modern Parliament.
One of the laptops will replace the current chamber laptop which is old and very slow that is normally used by the procedures officers during past Parliament meetings. The Systematic endpoint protection software is essential because of the urgent need to protect Parliament’s ICT network.

The 2 VuPoint Portable (handheld) Scanner will certainly boost Parliament Library to scan old books and reports into its digital depository as well as to assist Committee Secretariat who also need portable scanner for storing information while conducting hearings out in the Provinces.

While the Recorder will be used for Committee hearings while out in the provinces. This device captures digital audio for Hansard to transcribe. Currently National Parliament Office only has one.

Speaker of Parliament Ajilon Nasiu while thanking the Australian Government for their support also told Parliament Officers to make good use of the equipment with care.

MONDAY 7TH MAY 2018

Members of the Education and Human Resource Training Committee is conducting an inquiry on the Training of Medical Practitioners for Solomon Islands in the Western Province starting Tuesday 8th to 10th May 2018 in Munda and later to Gizo for a site visit at the Gizo hospital.

The team consisted of six Committee members led by the Chairman, Hon. Alfred Ghiro. Members of the Committee are: Hon. Matthew Wale, Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua, Hon. Dickson Mua, Hon. Peter Tom and Hon. David Tome.
Others that make up the team are staff of Parliament who will be facilitating the hearings as the Secretariat.

The hearings will take place at Helena Goldie Nursing College and Hospital where a number of witnesses from the Helena Goldie Nursing and Hospital. Helena Goldie Hospital staff and nurses, Gizo Hospital staff and Provincial Assembly will appear before the committee to give their views on the issue.

The Committee will examine the types and relevance of training, standards of certification and award of qualification for medical doctors, nurses, dentists and other health care practitioners.

They will also review in-service training plans and schemes for medical practitioners provided by the government ministries of their sponsors and examine any other matter relating to training and practice certification of medical health and care practitioners.

As part of the inquiry, they will conduct site inspections to existing medical and health facilities, thus, a site visit to Gizo hospital is part of the program.
Reports on the findings and recommendations will be presented to Parliament as soon as it is compiled.

The team will hold hearings in Munda for three days and will be travelling to Gizo later for the site visit and a courtesy call to the Western provincial Government. The team returns to Honiara on Friday 11th May.

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