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Parliament Passes The Town And Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016.;Solomon Islands Tertiary Education And Skills Authority Bill 2016 Passed.;

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

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.
It is recognized that there will be a period where providers must be allowed to work towards making the changes required for them to meet all of the standards and criteria for 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.

WEDNESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2017

An Act to provide for the welfare and protection of children was passed by Parliament on Monday the 20th of February 2016.

The Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 proposes to provide for the welfare and protection of Children by mandating the Social Welfare Division to better develop and coordinate services that would in the long run strengthen families and protecting children.

As stated in its objectives, the Bill also further authorizes the courts to make care and protection orders in serious cases of abuses and neglects of children.

When winding up the debate in reply, the Minister for Health and Medical Services and MP for Rennell and Bellona Hon. Dr Tautai Angikimua said the Bill seeks to protect and develop the interests and rights of our children regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or cultural background.

“This Bill will ensure that the children’s rights are acknowledged and promoted so that they grow into responsible citizens” He told Parliament.

Minister Angikimua said that a legal mechanism for protecting children from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation is provided in the Bill to advance compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Health Minister further explained that the Bill also promotes community peace and harmony of family and sense of belonging, best interest of children and customary law.

“These are the principles and values underpinning the spirit and purpose of the Bill. And this is critical to children’s overall welfare”

Minister Angikimua added that traditional emphasis on the importance of harmony and community stability is the fundamental principle for the Bill and the system it will establish.

He said the Bill also acknowledges the Solomon Island’s traditional context in terms of its support for children’s welfare, development and protection and it does not replace our positive customary practices of child protection.

The Health Minister told Parliament that his Ministry together with the Ministry of women, youth, children and family affairs that co-sponsored the Bill, have already develop a long term implementation framework to ensure the Bill is effective.

Generally the Bills and Legislation Committee and other MPs who have debated the Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 supported the Bill.

The Bill is passed with no amendments.

MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2017

Parliament has passed the Land Surveyors Bill 2016 on Wednesday the 15th of February 2017.

It is an Act to regulate the practice of land surveying, and for related purposes.

When winding up the debate on the Bill, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey Hon. Moses Garu stressed the need to overhaul the very old Land Surveyors Act that was introduced in 1915.

“Sir, the current Act is more than 100 years old and is badly in need of updating and so Mr. Speaker in its current form it does not reflect the needs of modern day survey practice”

Minister Garu told Parliament that the powers of the Surveyors’ Board be extended as the Bill proposes to empower the Board to consider and determine applications for registration or registering a surveyor.

He said the Board will comprise the Surveyor General and other registered land surveyors and it is only appropriate that the power to register land surveyors with professional surveyors who know their business.

Hon. Garu added that the Bill proposes the establishment of an Association of Surveyors with its own council that is of a similar manner to the Association of Valuers and its Council.

The Lands Minister reiterated that the Council will have the power to issue practicing licenses which would be needed in addition to registration before any person can practice surveying in the country.

Minister Garu said a process is proposed to allow any person aggrieved by a decision made by the Board or Council to appeal that decision.

“Under this Bill Sir, the Minister may make regulations to set further details relating to procedures, fees and other matters but the power to approve practice directions or rules are appropriately transferred to the Surveyor General” Hon. Garu added.

Minister Garu assured the House that he had taken note of the recommendations made in the Bills and Legislation Committee report.

Members of Parliament who spoke on this Land Surveyors Bill 2016 supported the Bill. It went through the Committee of the Whole House without amendments and passed in third reading.

The details of the Bill can be seen in the explanatory Memorandum to the Bill on this Parliament website.

The Act will become Law and be effective after it is being gazette.

FRIDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2017

Parliament has passed the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Monday the 13th of February 2017.

It is an Act to amend the existing Town and Country Planning Act (CAP.154) which was passed shortly after independence in 1978.

As was stated in its objects and reasons, despite minor amendments since that time, it has not kept up pace with modern day planning practices thus the bill seeks to make various reforms, including changing the title of the Act to the more relevant terminology of Planning and Development.

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey and Member of Parliament for West Guadalcanal Hon. Moses Garu when winding up the debate of this bill said the Act is out of date and badly in need of overhaul.

Hon. Garu further added that changes proposed in the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 will clearly control development activities in our towns and urban centres. He said his Ministry believes the various planning and development boards that the Bill proposed will see positive changes to new development of registered lands in the country.

“Furthermore Sir, I believe this Bill is geared towards seeing much more coordinated, orderly and well planned development in the next 20 to 30 years throughout our urban towns”

The Lands Minister told Parliament although it is totally impossible to change the face of Honiara at this present time, his ministry will ensure to turn things around and quickly comply with the new regulations and standards.

“So Sir, I see the timing of this Bill as critically very relevant”
Minister Garu believed the passage of the Bill will improve Honiara and the urban service and development centres throughout Solomon Islands to slowly transform into a better planned and orderly place in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) and Member of Parliament for North West Choiseul, Hon Connelly Sandakabatu says the seven recommendations that his Committee came up with in their report will surely assist the Government in bettering the existing Act.

MPs who spoke on the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 supported the Bill despite sharing their doubts on achieving the expected outcomes.

The Bill went through the Committee of the Whole House without amendments and passed in third reading.

The details of the proposed amendments can be seen in the explanatory Memorandum to the Bill on this Parliament website as well.

The Act will become Law and be effective after it is being gazette.

FRIDAY 27TH JANUARY 2017

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee successfully concluded hearings on the Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Ombudsman Bill 2016 on Tuesday the 24th of January 2017.

A total of five (5) key groups of stakeholders from government and NGOs appeared before the Committee for the Wild Life Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The Ombudsman Bill 2016 gathered a total of six (6) government divisions, The whilst civil society groups such as the Transparency Solomon Islands and Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) promised to provide written submissions.

The Wild Life Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Wild life Protection and Management Act 1998 to enable Solomon Islands to fully implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild Fauna and Flora.

Solomon Islands has been a party to CITES since 2007; however, the current Act only regulates trade in domestic species, thus it appears to only regulate particularly the export of domestic species whereas CITES requires Solomon Islands to also regulate the import of species that are not native to Solomon Islands.

Also, the requirements for permitting the import and export of species as outlined in CITES, are not enshrined in the current Act.

It is expected that amendments to the Act will ensure Solomon Islands is fully compliant with obligations under the CITES.

Meanwhile as for the, The Ombudsman Bill 2016, it seeks to strengthen the office and powers of the Ombudsman.

The objects of the Bill are:

  1. To repeal and replace the current Ombudsman ( further provisions) Act (Cap.88) 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.

These two Bills together with the other eight Bills already heard by the Committee will go before the upcoming meeting for debate.

Parliament will resume on Monday 6th February after it was adjourned on Friday the 16th December 2016.

WEDNESDAY 18TH JANUARY 2017

Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology and his staff and the Legal Drafts woman, AG Chamber before the BLC on Wednesday 18th January 2017 on the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 .
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology and his staff and the Legal Drafts woman, AG Chamber before the BLC on Wednesday 18th January 2017 on the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The 5th meeting of this 10th Parliament will resume on Monday 6th Feb 2017 after it was adjourned on Friday 16th December 2016; however, the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will commence its hearings into two Bills that have come before Parliament as of today, Wednesday 18th January 2017.

The two Bills are:

  1. Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016; and the
  2. Ombudsman Bill 2016.

The Bills reports are expected to be tabled in Parliament at its resumption on Feb 6th, 2017.
Meanwhile a total of eight Bills were already considered by the BLC.

They are:

  1. Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016,
  2. the Land Surveyors Bill 2016,
  3. the Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016,
  4. Pacific Games 2023 Bill 2016,
  5. Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 and
  6. The Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016.
  7. Anti-Corruption Bill 2016
  8. Whistle Blowers Bill 2016

Parliament expects to debate the Bills in this meeting.

TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016

Speaker of the national Parliament of SI, Mr. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu.
Speaker of the national Parliament of SI, Mr. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu.

The Speaker of Parliament Hon Ajilon Nasiu has again reminded all MPs that sittings must be seen to start at 9:30am each sitting day requiring punctuality on Parliament's part.

He said this when Parliament resumed on Monday 5th December 2016.

“Honourable Members, according to the Business Paper, there is a lot of business currently before the House. There is a total of 72 Questions on Notice, 11 Bills tabled, including the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016, and two motions"

Hon. Nasiu told Parliament that "It is always in the best interest of Parliament House that businesses before it are dispatched as soon as practicably possible.

The Speaker strongly announced this in Parliament since there is a lot of government business and questions that is currently before the House to consider.

However, as set down in today’s Order Paper, the Second Reading of the 2017 appropriation Bill 2016 was moved by the Hon. Finance Minister Snider Rini in accordance with the practices of the Honorable House.

That is to say that when a motion for the Second Reading of an Appropriation Bill is moved, proceedings on the Appropriation Bill take precedence over any other motion or Bill.

The Speaker has therefore proceed with the second reading as such is the importance of appropriating funds to supply proposed budget heads that it warrants Parliament to expediently dispose-off relevant matters according to prescribed rules.

On that note, the Speaker Hon. Nasiu again reminded Parliament members on the issue of Quorum or non-attendance and told them to seriously prioritize the businesses of Parliament.

He said this has the effect of dragging the businesses of Parliament thus unnecessarily prolonging meetings.

Hon Nasiu said he will ensure that available procedural tools are not used to unnecessarily curtail the proceedings of Parliament and he is prepared to make necessary rulings to that effect.

Debate on the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 is due to commence soon on the coming sitting days.

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