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PAC Inquired On Government Borrowing;Get Tested-YWPG Take The Lead;BLC Conducts Hearing On Legal Profession Bill 2017 & Prescription Of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017;

Parliament Adjourned to Monday 9th October 2017

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2017

The Environmental and Conservation Committee (ECC) of the National Parliament will resume its inquiry into the “Impacts of sea level rise due to climate change on low lying coastal and atoll communities in the country” in Temotu.

The inquiry takes place in Lata, Temotu province from 23rd September to 3rd October of September.

This was initiated in 2016 to determine the extent of the situation on communities that are considered to be adversely affected by rising sea levels and would require immediate government intervention.

Hence, ECC began its inquiry with the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Environment to gather scientific information on climate change, the impacts of sea level rise and climate change related activities that have been carried out by the government before commencing with its first provincial inquiry on Malaita, notably in Langalanga lagoon and Lau lagoon.

ECC would have preferred to travel to the Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) on that instance but was unable to due to budgetary constraints. The Committee views such locales as places very vulnerable to sea level rise due to their atoll characteristics and the only means for adaptation is to relocate. However, relocation is a sensitive issue given the nature of tribal land ownership.

The Committee will be holding public hearings and site visits with stakeholders that are representatives of the structural strata within a community such as church leader, committees, chiefs, elders, women leaders, youth leaders and so forth.
The ECC’s Terms of Reference are outlined as:

a) To examine, consider, observe and determine issues in relation to the impacts of sea level rise on low lying coastal and atoll communities in selected parts of the country to;
i. determine the impact of sea level rise; and
ii. determine measures adopted by low lying coastal and atoll communities to adapt and/or mitigate the impacts of sea level rise.
b) To examine and evaluate measures adopted and/or implemented by relevant administrative and implementing authorities to address the impacts of sea level rise.
c) Report back to Parliament the Committee’s findings and recommendations of the inquiry.

It is important for the public to understand that the inquiry is necessary to receive submissions and views of people in adversely affected communities, and also visit those communities in the country.
As much as the Committee would like to conduct a nationwide consultation, it does not have the time and resources to do so.

Therefore, it is very important for the general public, NGOs, CSOs, Churches, and Community Climate Change Committees to put forward their submissions to the Committee regarding your views and recommendations under the Inquiry’s TOR.

The Committee is chaired by Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana, MP for Maringe- Kokota and comprised of the following members; Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua, MP for North-East Guadalcanal, Hon. Charles Sigoto, MP for Rannonga-Simbo, Hon. Matthew Wale, MP for Aoke-Langa Langa, Hon. Alfred Ghiro, MP for East Makira, Hon. Jackson Fiulaua, MP for Central Kwara’ae, Hon. Connelly Sandakabatu, MP for North-West Choiseul, and Hon. Commins Mewa, MP for Temotu-Nende.

ECC welcomes submissions from the public concerning its above mentioned Terms of Reference. Submissions (written) can be from any members of the public, NGOs, CSOs, and ministries which can provide the Committee with more insights, observation, opinion and recommendations. Submissions can be forwarded to:

The Chairman of the Environmental and Conservation Committee, National Parliament of Solomon Islands, P.O Box G19, Honiara. Or sent to Committee Secretary via email: ComSec@parliament.gov.sb or gregory.fineanganofo@parliament.gov.sb
Parliament Media
ENDS///

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2017

“This is the first time for Parliament team to visit our village at Manita” Quote from village representative.

The statement echoed by the villager sums up the success of the recent constituency visit conducted recently, by the Parliamentary Civic Education Unit (PCEU) to East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.

On the 21st August – 2nd September 2017, a team of 4 officers of the National Parliament conducted a series of Parliament Outreach activities in eight (8) villages and seven (7) Community High Schools in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.
The PCEU team commenced with the constituency tour in East Makira Constituency on 21st – 27 August 2017.

The team visited Two (2) villages and Four (4) Community High Schools. One of the Interesting thing about the visit to four (4) Community High Schools was the schools were the main Centre’s whereby both staff, students and the surrounding communities gathered for the PCEU outreach workshops.

Such arrangement has been described as opportunity for both constituents from school and communities to listen to presentations, participated in group activities and more importantly shared views and concerns experienced by schools and communities.

The occasion provided an avenue whereby the team listen to firsthand information from both parties on their understanding of Parliamentary Democracy in Solomon Islands, adopted from United Kingdom when Solomon Islands became independent in 1978.
On the second leg of the constituency visit, the team visited eight (8) villages & seven (7) community High Schools in Central Makira on 27 August – 30th August 2017.
Similarly, the PCEU team conducted the awareness program on two approaches.

First, the civic team designed and delivered community presentation which was more detail and informative and suitable for rural people. Power presentation for schools consisted of graphics, photos and illustrations that is easier for students to learn, remember and appreciate.

Both presentations (for community & school) focused on the definition of the Westminster Parliamentary system, functions of Parliament, roles of Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees, Law Making Process and the supporting services of National Parliament.
For this recent visit the PCEU was fortunate to speak and interacted with over 1,500 constituents.

“We are delighted to directly engage with constituents and to listen to their inadequate understanding of the Parliament and roles of MPs. Moreover, after the sessions, one thing the civic team appreciated was the fact that majority openly declared that this was the first time for Parliament team to visit their respective communities or schools,” PCEU Director, Patteson Lusi stated.

The team would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for making the tour possible.
Hon Alfred Ghiro MP East Makira Constituency and constituency officers.
Hon Nestor Ghiro MP Central Makira Constituency and constituency officers
Speaker of National Parliament

Clerk and Management of National Parliament
Solomon Islands Government
Premier and Provincial Executive of Makira Ulawa Provincial Assembly
Chief and elders of selected communities in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies
School Principals of selected High Schools in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.

The Parliamentary Civic Education team next constituency tour is on the second week of the October whereby the team will visit three constituencies in the Western Province, this includes Ranongga, Simbo, North and South Velalavela Constituencies.
Ends ///

FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will begin their inquiries into two Bills that are currently before the House.

The two Bills are the Legal Profession Bill 2017 and Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017.

According to the hearing schedule, BLC will first hear from stakeholders of the Legal Profession Bill 2017 on Wednesday and Thursday. The inquiry will end with the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Friday 15th September.

The objects and reasons of the Legal Profession Bill are to regulate the legal profession, to facilitate the fair and efficient administration of justice and to provide for the protection of consumers of legal services and the public. The Bill establishes two new legal entities to jointly regulate the profession, the Legal Profession Authority (LPA) and the Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS).

The Bill also sets out the requirements for admission to legal practice and the minimum standard of professional conduct expected from legal practitioners and creates a Disciplinary Committee of Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS) and a Disciplinary Tribunal to effectively deal with complaints about unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. Both disciplinary bodies are presided over by a High Court Judge.

In addition, the Bill provides sufficient investigatory powers to ensure the disciplinary bodies can effectively investigate complaints; provides for the issue and annual renewal of practising certificates dependent upon compliance with the Act and Rules and compliance with the requirements to undertake continuing legal education; introduces categories of practising certificates to properly reflect the knowledge and expertise of the practitioner; sets out strict requirements for dealing with trust money for the protection of clients and provides for separate trust accounts and for proper record keeping and auditing of trust accounts.

The Bill also has strict requirements in relation to the costs legal professionals can charge their clients. It requires the disclosure of costs and costs agreements. It provides for costs assessment by the courts if there is a dispute.

Finally the Legal Profession Bill 2017 further provides for the appointment of supervisors of trust accounts, managers and receivers in certain specified circumstances where such intervention is necessary.

Stakeholders to appear before BLC on the Legal Profession Bill will include senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Legal Drafts person, Chief Justice, Chief Magistrate, Attorney General, Solomon Islands Bar Association, Director of Public Prosecution, Public Solicitors Office and two prominent Lawyers Andrew Radclyffe and Rodney Kingmele.

Meanwhile, the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 will sum up the BLC’s hearing on Friday 15th September as was stated in their schedule.

The object of this Bill is to increase the number of ministers from 23 to 24. This amendment will facilitate the creation of a ministry to administer the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Act 2017. Responsibility for this Act currently rests with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

Stakeholders invited to appear before BLC on the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 include Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Legal Drafts Person, former Prime Ministers Sir Francis Billy Hilly, Rt Hon Ezekiel Alebua, Sir Allan Kemakeza, Former Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena, Former Politicians/public servants Sir Paul Tovua, Mr. Job Dudley Tausinga, Ms Ruth Liloqula, Concerned citizens Mr. Charles Dausabea, Mr.Leslie Kwaiga and a rep from Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

Delayed broadcast of the hearings will be made available for listeners in the provinces via SIBC.

FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

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The Young Women’s Parliamentary Group (YWPG) is again taking the lead in in advocating to end cervical cancer.

The group did a group pap’s smear test at the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA) clinic on Tues 12 Sep 2017.

This is part of their ongoing advocacy to end cervical cancer among women.

With the alarming rate of this type of cancer among our women it is a great concern to our society.

Looking back in history, the youngest to have developed cervical cancer is 18 years and as such YWPG is calling on all women who are in any sexual relationship to get tested.

Now it is much easier to do tests than 3 years ago. Tests are freely done at SIPPA and Kukum clinic where you get your results straight after.

Anything to do with reproductive health for men and women is still a subject not openly discussed and a lot of women find it difficult to come out.

“Some are just too busy with work and family life that they do not have time to get tested. Therefore, it is a great concern to us and we’re calling on all women again to take that step,” YWPG advisor, Marisa Pepa said.

The SIPPA clinic is open from Mon-Wed-Fridays for outpatients, so get tested and stay safe.

The Young women’s Parliamentary Group is a voluntary organization under Parliaments Parliamentary Civic Education Department.

Its role is to nurture young women leaders, network with current leaders and given its location it aims to influence government policies and legislation not necessarily women’s issues only.

The group is headed by the Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister. They have a 5 team executive that manages the group activities.

THURSDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2017

The Public Accounts Committee has concluded its inquiry into the performance of government (SIG) borrowings for 2016, retrospective to 2017. The Committee under Standing Orders 69(1)(a) is mandated to examine accounts mentioned in Section 77 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act 2013.

These include examining the statement of the amounts outstanding at the end of the financial year in respect of the public debt (Section 77(1)(d); the statement of the amounts guaranteed by the Government at the end of the financial year in respect of bank overdrafts, loans, public loan issues and other contingent liabilities (Section 77(1)(e)); and the statement of the amount outstanding at the end of the financial year in respect of loans issued by the Government (Section 77(1)(f).

The inquiry aims to; examine how the government would raise money to fund its borrowing; establish the necessity for such borrowings; examine systematic risks, exposures and implications such borrowing may impose on lenders and on the overall financial system and examine other related matters.

The Committee hopes to table its report with recommendations when Parliament resumes on 9th October. Appearing before the Committee were senior managements and officials from the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands National Provident Fund, the Solomon Ports Authority, Solomon Power and the Bank of South Pacific.

Financial scrutiny is a paramount legislative oversight function executed by the Public Accounts Committee. Members of the Committee are the Chair, Hon. Rick Houenipwela, Hon. Jeremiah Manele, Hon. Derek Sikua, Hon. Connelly Sandakabatu, Hon. Matthew Wale, Hon. Nestor Giro, Hon. Derrick Manu’ari and Hon. Steve Abana.

TUESDAY 29TH AUGUST 2017

Parliament has withdrawn the Anti – Corruption Bill 2016 from the Business Paper on the floor of Parliament on Monday 28th of August 2017.

The Prime Minister sought leave under Standing Order 31(1) to move the motion to withdraw the Bill.

The motion was moved by the Prime Minister without notice under Standing Order 26 (1) due to the following reasons:

  • The Bills and Legislation Committee made some very good recommendations to improve this Bill, therefore, government needs to improve the Bill by including recommendations from the Bills and Legislations Committee. The Bill will be reintroduced in Parliament as a new Bill.

There was objection on the motion from the Leader of Opposition, Hon. Jeremiah Manele who deferred the Prime Minister’s intention to withdraw the Bill.

He said despite the number of recommendations from the BLC, the overall recommendation of the committee was for the house to proceed with the Bill.

“In that regard, I would like to defer from this intention to withdraw the Bill,” Hon. Manele stated.

He added that this country is also looking forward to the passage of this legislation.

Leader of Independent Group in Parliament, Hon. Dr Derick Sikua also joined the Leader of Opposition in objecting the withdrawal of the Bill.

Hon. Sikua who strongly opposed the withdrawal asked, “What is the Prime Minister afraid of?”

He went on to say, “This is not in the interest of Good Governance of this country.”

He highlighted that there are legislations already passed by this Parliament that are hanging on this anti- corruption Bill 2016, therefore the Bill should not be withdrawn.

“Sir, I object to the withdrawal of the anti-corruption Bill 2016 because it is not in the interest of the good governance of this country and the interest of our people.”

However, the Prime Minister maintained his stand to withdraw the Bill and strongly refuted objections from both sides of the house saying, his government is standing up to improve this Bill and draw recommendations from the Bills and Legislations Committee.

He promised that it will return with much improved provisions to tackle corruption.

A total of 31 government MPs voted in support of the motion and only 10 from both the Opposition and Independent Groups voted against the motion and 9 MPs were absent from Parliament at the time of voting.

The Bill is now before cabinet but there is no clear indication of when it will be reintroduced in Parliament.

WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST 2017

Hon. David Day Pacha is the new Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands.

Hon. David Day Pacha is Member of Parliament for South Guadalcanal Constituency.

He was elected unopposed at the resumption of the 6th meeting of the 10th Parliament on Monday 21st August 2017.

Hon Day Pacha’s election came after the Deputy Speaker’s office was vacated by former Deputy Speaker, Hon. Andrew Manepora’a.

Hon. Manepora’a vacated the office upon his appointment as the new Minister of Lands and Housing.

Hon. Day Pacha and Hon. Steve Abana were nominated for the position of Deputy Speaker, however, Hon. Abana withdrew his candidacy on the morning of Monday 21st August before Parliament meeting resumed.

Speaker of National Parliament, Hon. Jasper Ajilon Nasiu said the two candidates are qualified to be elected as Deputy Speaker under section 64(1) (b) of the Constitution.

The nominations supplement the requirements of Standing Orders 5(2) and 5 (3).

Hon. Ajilon said Hon. Abana’s withdrawal has been accepted. As such, Hon Day Pacha stands unopposed for the position of Deputy Speaker.

Meanwhile, Parliament is adjourned until Monday 28th August 2017. While Parliament is adjourned, PAC is expected to continue with its hearings into the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017.

WEDNESDAY 23RD AUGUST 2017

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee concluded hearings into the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill today, Wednesday 23rd August 2017.

This Bill is seeking Parliament to appropriate an additional $587,424,786.66 for service to the end of this year, 2017.

The total amount of the 2017 Supplementary Appropriation Bill comprised of Contingency Warrants, Advance Warrants and total Supplementary Expenditures as follows:

  • Total Contingency Warrants (Recurrent) – 6,920,000
  • Total Advance Warrants – 22,901,858.66
  • Total Supplementary Expenditure – 554,052,928
  • Variations in Appropriation - 3,550,000

This hearings commenced on Friday 18th August 2017 where a total of 15 government Ministries and the Attorney General Chambers appeared before the committee to answer queries by committee on the additional funds they seek from the consolidated funds.

A full summary breakdown of the figures required by each Ministry will be updated in due course, however, stated above are the lump sum all those Ministries seek to carry them to the end of this year.

Meanwhile, this 6th meeting of this Parliament has adjourned to Monday 28th August 2017 to give time for PAC to hold this hearings and compile a report to be presented to Parliament during this meeting.

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.

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