WEDNESDAY 18TH JANUARY 2017
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:
The Bills reports are expected to be tabled in Parliament at its resumption on Feb 6th, 2017.
Parliament expects to debate the Bills in this meeting.
TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016
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.
TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016
Minister of Finance and Treasury, Hon Snyder Rini announced this when
He said, “Sir the Budget that I present today will deliver a record $4.1 billion in spending to social services, rural infrastructure, rural development activities and key programs to provide both quality and coverage of public investments to our people.”
He said it will enable ministries to maintain essential services for our people and lay foundations for future growth for the nation.
Hon. Rini informed the House of where Government will source revenue to fund this budget, which is a combination of domestic revenue, external budget support and cash reserves that successive Governments have built up over recent years.
With these revenue sources, he assures that the 2017 budget is in a fiscally sound position.
Hon. Rini continue to say that total revenue for 2017 is expected to hit $3,909.2 million, where total domestically sourced revenue is expected to be at $3,555.3 million, an increase of $577.3 million ( or 19.6 per cent) over the 2016 Revised Budget Estimate.
Domestic revenue is expected to be sourced from the following:
The Government expects an estimated donor support of $283 million, including $80 million in general support from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
On the expenditure side, the Government is budgeting to spend $4,087.6 million. This is made up of $2,906.8 million for recurrent expenditure and $1,180 million for development expenditure.
Of the recurrent expenditure of $2,906.8 million, $2,622.9 million will be on recurrent operations of which Payroll will be $1,028.5 million. Other charges $1,594.3 million and donor budget support for recurrent operations $283.9 million.
He further added that Government also plans to spend $1,180.8 million in major strategic investments, which comprises of $1,110.8 million from domestic sources and $70.0 million from donor development assistance, principally the Republic of China.
91 percent of the recurrent and development budget expenditures are funded by domestic sources, while 9 percent from the donor community.
Hon. Rini said, to enable the Government to continue provide services and undertake productive infrastructure projects that are not provided for in the primary allocations, there are provisions in the Appropriation Bill that the Government may utilize.
He finally added that the 2017 budget provides for $85 million recurrent and for development contingency warrants. Expenditures for which are at this time unforeseen and are not factored in the budget.
It also set a borrowing limit of $900 million and an advance warrant limit of $200 million.
The Finance Minister reminded the House on the use of Contingency Warrants, that these are for unbudgeted or unforeseen expenditures, such as national emergencies and disasters, but also for ensuring we have fiscal buffers.
“Such funds, Sir, maintain the continued and unhindered implementation of services, whilst accommodating for sudden ‘one off’ or ‘off budget’ requirements. This is consistent with the purpose set out in the Constitution,” he explained.
In executing and managing the 2017 Budget, the Finance Minister lists several measures that Government will implement in 2017 to strengthen the alignment of government’s priorities to the allocation of our scarce resources through the budget to maintain its credibility.
Unlike 2015 and 2016 Budgets, the level Government cash reserves required to balance the 2017 Budget will be reduced significantly to $178.4 million. This demonstrates not only Government’s commitment to refocus expenditure to key infrastructure and priority spending but also shows Government’s intention to maintain and rebuild its cash reserves at a sustainable level.
Hon Rini told Parliament that our Budget is only as good if they are implemented.
The Finance Minister announced that the 2017 Budget is the first step in delivering the National Strategic Goals, which will be finalized by the end of this year.
The 20 years National Development Strategy (NDS) – 2016 - 2035 has been approved and launched in April 2016. It presents the overall vision and long term development objective that aims to improve social and economic livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders, through a return to economic growth by delivering on the following objectives:
Hon. Rini said the 2017 Budget focuses on these areas, but new projects take time to design and effectively implement. So over the next 2-3 years, greater focus will be given to developing and implementing projects that provide infrastructure in rural areas and which help create the environment for sustained economic growth.
To this end, he said his Ministry and the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) will ensure that all programmes and projects that are included in the Budget, going forward, must be ready for implementation and properly costed so that they are completed successfully on time within Budget.
He concluded that MDPAC and his Ministry are working with all ministries to improve proper budget planning and prioritization and compliance with budget instructions for both formulation and execution.
Meanwhile, the 2017 budget is drop by $0.1 Billion compared to the 2016 budget which was $4.2 billion.
THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER 2016
Parliament meeting is further adjourned to Monday 5th December 2016 to give time for the public Accounts Committee to scrutinize the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016.
Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga moved the motion of special adjournment.
He said that’s the only reason for this adjournment.
Leader of Opposition, Hon. Jeremiah Manele thanked the Acting Prime Minister for moving the motion.
He said it is important for the sake of transparency and accountability that the committee takes the opportunity to scrutinize all the budgets for all the Ministries.
He also thanked the Minister of Finance for availing budget documents which are now before the Committee.
The leader, however, encourage all ministers to remind their Permanent Secretaries and Financial Controllers to turn up on time as scheduled so that PAC do not have any further delays in the inquiries.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Rick Hou also thanked and acknowledge the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for considering the Committee’s letter of request to government to give more time for these inquiries.
He said the time given for PAC to do its work is adequate and PAC has begun inquiries on Monday the 21st.
Meanwhile, the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 goes through the first reading today. The other bill that also goes through first reading is the, ‘Ombudsman Bill 2016.’
Parliament’s adjournment to Monday 5th Dec 2016 is the third adjournment in a row for this particular meeting.
MONDAY 21ST NOVEMBER 2016
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee will begin public hearings into 2017 Budget on Monday, beginning with the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands, The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and then the Ministry of Finance and Treasury on Day One.
Under Parliamentary Standing Orders, the Public Accounts Committee reviews the Budget on behalf of the Parliament, and reports back on issues and challenges that it finds.
This year, every Ministry will appear before the Committee over the coming 10 days.
The Committee is expected to report to Parliament before the end of the month, and will be meeting daily until the task is complete.
FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 2016
Parliament at its resumption on Monday 14th November 2016 is again adjourned to Tuesday 22nd November 2016.
Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare moved the motion of special adjournment based on the following reasons;
This was the second time the Prime Minister had moved a motion of special adjournment since the final meeting resumed. The first adjournment was on Tuesday the 1st of November where it was adjourned to Monday 14th November.
The first special adjournment was for similar reasons. That is to allow the Bills and Legislation Committee to conduct its hearings into the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Land Surveyors Bill 2016, the Adoption Bill 2016, Pacific games 2023 Bill 2016, Child and family welfare Bill 2016 and the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016.
It is understood that the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 was read the first time on the floor of Parliament and is also awaiting scrutiny process by the Bills and Legislation Committee.