National Parliament of Solomon Islands

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To be a modern Parliament that fulfills its constitutional duties and effectively serves the people of Solomon Islands

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2015

members of the 10th Parliament in the chamber with the Speaker of Parliament, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu (center).
Members of the 10th Parliament in the chamber with the Speaker of Parliament, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu (center).

Parliament has passed the $4 billion much awaited people’s budget on Monday the 20th of April 2015.

The 2015 budget which totals up to Four Billion, sixty million, two hundred and fifty three thousand and eight hundred and sixty three dollars ($4,060,253,863) promised to spend more on major reform programs and to enable ministries to maintain services for the people of Solomon Islands and lay foundations for future growth.

Parliament appropriated the 2015 budget to the service of the year ending 31st December 2015.

There is a total of thirty six major initiatives in the priority reform areas and targeted sectors of the Government and they all are outlined under Fundamental Reforms and Sectoral Reforms as follows:

1. Constitutional Reform

2. Political Reform

3. Land Reform

4. Establishment of the Independent Commission against corruptions

5. Customary Land Reforms

6. Waisisi, Aluta and Baunani Oil Palm Projects and Malaita and Guadalcanal Out Growers Oil Palm Projects

7. Tourism development

8. National Peace and State Building

9. Relocation of National Referral Hospital

10. Rebuilding of Provincial Hospital

11. Rural Transport Infrastructures

12. Shipping Initiatives

13. Support to Provincial Infrastructures

14. Rural Development Projects

15. Land development

16. Establishing the Capacity to plan and Monitor DCCG Policies through Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC)

17. Community Fisheries livelihood

18. Tina Hydro Project

19. Undersea Broadband Development Project

20. Revitalisation of DBSI

21. Redirect CEMA

22. Reinvigoration of Investment Corporation Solomon Islands (ICSI)

23. Review of a number of Legislations

24. Provincial Township Projects

25. Health and Education Infrastructure and ongoing services

26. Support to SINU Transition to University

27. Support to Provincial Government Support Programs

28. Support and strengthening of Police and Correctional Institution

29. Support and strengthening of Law and Justice

30. Mini Cannery – Tataba, Tenaru and Tulagi

31. Suava Bay & Bina Habour International Port/Onshore Fish Processing

32. Reacquisition of Russel Islands Plantations Project to develop a major Tourism Destination

33. 4th USP Campus project

34. Disabilities, youth and women

35. Agro-forestry (New Georgia)

36. Fiu Hydro Project

It took the House four days of debate and four days for the committee of supply to debate, questioned and passed the 2015 budget.

Coming up is the Fisheries Management Bill 2015; however, the House stands adjourned till Wednesday 22nd April 2015 to give time for the Bills and Legislation Committee to tabled its report to parliament and inform Members on their debate on the Bill.

MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2015

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee concluded its hearings into the Fisheries Management Bill 2015 on Sunday the 19th April 2015.

The Bill is to make provisions for the conservation, management, development and sustainable use of fisheries and marine resources of Solomon Islands, to monitor and control fishing vessels within and beyond the fisheries waters. It is also to repeal the fisheries Act 1998 and to make consequential amendments to the Provincial Government Act 1997 and the Town and Country Planning Act (Cap). 154).

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Chris Rofafia in his submission to the committee explained the reasons behind the Bill.

The main objectives of the Bill are:

1. For Sustainable management of Fisheries resources within our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

2. Effective compliance

3. Strengthening institutional governance

4. Development of the private sector to sustain economic zones

He explained that the four objectives are essential to the underlying objective which is to properly manage the EEZ of Solomon Islands waters.

But to do this well, the Ministry will need an effective compliance, meaning, proper monitoring of the fishing operations in our sea; how our people use these resources in the villages and how to enforce law. Meaning effective compliance, strengthening of institutional governance and development of the private sector to sustain the EEZ is vital to be named in this new Bill.

A total of 9 stakeholder organizations including the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources appeared before the Bills and Legislation Committee to give their submissions during the inquiries.

They are:

1. Legal Draftsman – AG Chambers

2. Litigation Section-AG Chambers

3. World Wild Life Fund

4. World Fish Centre

5. Forum Fisheries Agency

6. DPP Office

7. Police Maritime

8. Environmental Health Department

9. National Fisheries Development Co (NFD)

The hearings begin on Saturday 18th of April 2015 and ended on Sunday 19th April 2015.

A report on the Bill is currently underway and will be presented in Parliament before it is debated.

MONDAY 20TH APRIL 2014

The UNDP Parliamentary Strengthening Project(PSP) is one of the most successful institutional and capacity building projects this country have seen, says Chairman of the Parliamentary House Committee, Hon. Derick Manuari in a motion to thank the UNDP project.

Hon. Derick moved a motion to thank the UNDP Parliamentary Strengthening Project in Parliament last week on Friday the 17th of April 2015.

Hon Derick who was one of the pioneers of the project thanked and highlights areas of great achievement he has seen through the implementation of the project since it started in 2005 and ended on the 31st of March 2015.

The 10 year project successfully assisted in strengthening the National Parliament’s capacity to effectively deliver on its constitutional mandate. It was also designed to support the achievement of goals and targets set out in the Solomon Islands National Strategy 2011 – 2020, particularly its outcomes in Governance
“In a nutshell the many things we see, used and supported with in this parliament is the direct result of the project. I believe those of you who have been with parliament before the project would testify to the fact that the National Parliament office have greatly change in so many ways as a result of the project.”

Hon Derick highlighted the parliament corporate planning, strengthening of parliamentary committees, and the creation of new departments within parliament as the many achievements of the project.
That includes the parliamentary procedures office, the parliamentary civic education department, the media, ICT departments and the upgrading of Hansard and Security system in parliament.

Hon Derick said, indeed the project has transformed parliament into a modern parliament that is now able to provide professional and high level of services to its members and stakeholders.

“And I am pleased to say here that at the moment as a result of the project, our parliament the National Parliament of Solomon Islands is one of if not the best in the region excluding Australia and New Zealand.”

“Our parliament has been talked highly of in region as an example of a successful institutional and capacity building program, something that all of us should be proud of. Our parliament’s committee inquiries and hearings and the work of our civic department are amongst the many things that are often been admired and impressed by our regional neighbors.”
Hon Derick applauded the government for taking the issue of administrative autonomy for Parliament on board.

“Sir I was informed that the work on this has been going on well and that the project through a consultant last year has completed 4 draft bills related to this autonomy.”
Hon Derick said he is pleased to note that for the first time a ruling has included parliament development in its policy and government must be applauded for this.
Having highlighted the achievements of the project, Hon. Derick reminded the House of possible threats that may undermine the achievement that Parliament have made as a result of the project.

He said the main threats on the achievements are the question of sustaining the achievements made through the project.
“Sir, programs like national wide committee inquiries, civic constituency tours, televising of parliament and committee proceedings are expensive to execute. It is therefore very important that parliament and the government make adequate budgetary provisions to ensure that these programs continue to be supported in the future.”
He further emphasis that for parliament to make proper sense to the wider community of our society it has to happen through these programs.
“If we do not provide the necessary budgetary provisions then we are not only drowning the achievements of the project but we are failing our responsibility to educate our society on the system that governs them.”

Meanwhile, Hon Derick thanked the following individuals who have worked tirelessly to ensure the project came to its fulfillment. They are:
Mr. Paul Tovua and the Right Honourable Sir Peter Kenilorea and former Clerk to National Parliament Ms Taeasi Sanga.

“I believed all of us in this honourable chamber would agree that it is only right that this House fully acknowledges and thank them for their vision and contributions to the project and to the National Parliament.”
Hon Derick further thanked his former colleagues who have served under the project and the project managers who have managed the project since 2005.
The last national project manager to its completion this year is Mr. Celsus Talifilu whom with others started with the project in 2006.
Mr. Celsus is the only person who has stayed with the project from the start right to the end.

“Thank you Celsus for dedicating your time for the service of this country and I wish you and your two other colleagues well in your future.”
Other project Managers were Mr. Warren Cahill, Dr John Patterson and Mr. David Kusilifu.

As a brief background to how this project came about, Hon Derick highlighted that support to parliaments or strengthening of parliaments by international and multinational donor agencies like UNDP is something that is quite new.
It was recognized that since the end of World War II very little attention been given by donor agencies like UNDP to capacitating and strengthening of parliaments of the immerging democracies.

The lion share of international donor funding in institutional strengthening and capacity building is often been given to the executive arm of the government.
This as studies have shown resulted in parliament’s inability to provide effective checks and balances on the many complex activities of the executive.
It is believed that this had led to poor governance and instability that has been experienced in most of the immerging democracies including Solomon Islands.
He further said that in our region the pacific, it was well recognized that parliaments were poorly resourced and have little capacity to support its members in carrying out their representative and national duties.

This was confirmed through a Legislative Needs Assessments (LNA) study that was conducted on a number of countries in the region including Solomon Islands in 2003 and 2004.

“Sir the findings contained in LNA has led to this project and I am very grateful that UNDP have responded positively to the request that was made to them to put the findings of the LNA into a project and the rest was history.”
The project has three phases; phases 1 & 2 were completed in 2009 and 2012 respectively and phase 3 which is the final phase had just completed at the end of last month, March 2015.

Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare in his contributions to the motion concurred to the successful outcome of the project as listed by Hon Derick and have acknowledge the call from both the Legislature and the Judiciary for autonomy.
He said while the academic argument on the issue of autonomy in the interest of good governance is wide, it goes down directly to politicians to drive this objective, especially the government of the day.

“Government is committed to continue to have discussions over the issue and if there is a need to devote time to bring the issue to the floor of Parliament or even outside to seriously discuss the matter, let’s do it.”

Leader of Opposition, Hon. Jeremiah Manele among his many acknowledgements to the project and those who have initiated, funded and served in it said we need to sustain and build on the gains that the project has achieved.

By that, he hoped that the Government through its responsible Ministry of Public Service is prepared to absorbed and accommodate staff and services that were part of the project and offer them appropriate remuneration in order to retain them.
“Failure to do so would undermine the gains and improvements we have achieved so far under the project.”

He said we need to properly equip and resource parliament if we are serious about the plans for autonomy.

Leader of Independent group, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga in his testimony on the success and progress of the project has highlighted the high professional output by the Secretariat to Committees who has set high standard and quality performance in assisting Members to facilitate committee hearings and inquiries.
He also highlighted the work of the Civic Education Department for educating constituents on the roles and functions of Parliament.

“All in all, there is a lot of improvement. So it is now a call on government to see how it will further develop Parliament after this project has ended.”
He mentioned autonomy is the most important among other developments for Parliament.
The DCC government has included support to further development of Parliament in its policy.

The Parliamentary Strengthening Project is a multi-donor assisted project that has been supporting the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for a 10 years period under the auspices of UNDP.

The project started in 2005 and ends on the 31st of March this year.

MONDAY 13TH APRIL 2015

PAC Chairman, Hon. Rick Hou
Parliamentary Accounts Committee Chairman, Hon. Rick Hou

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and MP for Small Malaita Hon Rick Hounipwela presented the Committee’s report on the 2015 budget in Parliament on Wednesday the 8th of April.

The report was based on evidence the Committee received on a number of hearings the PAC had conducted for Government Ministries, Financial Institutions and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in the past weeks.

The report is intended to assist all MPs to further debate the 2015 Appropriation Bill of SBD$4.18 Billion before it is passed.

When presenting the report, PAC Chairman Hon Rick Hou acknowledged Government Ministries, SOEs for their participation during the PAC hearings. He also acknowledged the Auditor General (AG) Mr Robert Cohen, the National Parliament Staff, for logistic support and for putting together the final report.

Hon Hou told Parliament that the hearings were conducted over 8 day’s period.

“In that period we conducted 32 hearing sessions; 212 witnesses appeared before the Committee; and we collected 68 submissions” Hon Hou highlighted.

On that note, the PAC Chairman expressed the Committee’s disappointment with the Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) for not turning up to the hearings.

He further clarified that SOEs as stipulated under their Act are obliged to report to Parliament.

He commended other SOEs who turned up to the hearings when summoned.

Speaking on the 2015 budget, PAC Chairman Hon Rick Hou stated that the country has slowly recovered as far as last year’s (2014) global economy outlook is concerned. This year (2015) the country’s domestic economy will grow by 3 percent with external reserved predicted to increase further.

He highlighted that the main drivers of our domestic economy are on forestry, agriculture and fisheries but had warned that the decline in logging activities would have a negative impact to the country’s economy.

The PAC Chairman added that the monetary sector will expand by 8 percent on the back of expected domestic demand as a consequence of the 2015 budget expectations.

Hon Hou further stated that the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) government will do well as it discloses the biggest budget ever in history.

“The budget will bring in DCC government policies,” stated the PAC Chairman.

Moreover, Hon Hou told Parliament that DCC’s commitment in fighting corruption is one bold step to ensure transparency, accountability and that moral behavior is succeed to effectively move forward our development plans preserved in the $4.18 billion budget.

The PAC Chairman also urged all Members of Parliament to support the people’s budget and the DCC government policies.

“We have to invest it to our people since it is their budget before the changes that we all wanted will take place.”

The Small Malaita MP further cemented in his remarks that in order for us to truly achieve the purpose of the budget, the government must prioritize the need to strengthen our management and internal system in ensuring the procurement process is corrupt-free.

Debate on the 2015 budget is expected to conclude on Monday 13th April 2015 and through the Committee of Supply within the next few days.

TUESDAY 7TH APRIL 2015

Minister of Finance, Hon. Snyder Rini
Minister of Finance, Hon. Snyder Rini

Government says it will spend more on major reform programs and to enable ministries to maintain services for the people of Solomon Islands and lay foundations for future growth.

Minister of Finance, Hon. Snyder Rini presented the Four Billion, sixty million, two hundred and fifty three thousand and eight hundred and sixty three dollars ($4,060,253,863) budget during his speech at its second reading in Parliament on Thursday 2nd April 2015.

There is a total of thirty six major initiatives in the priority reform areas and targeted sectors of the Government and they all are outlined under Fundamental Reforms and Sectoral Reforms as follows:

1. Constitutional Reform

2. Political Reform

3. Land Reform

4. Establishment of the Independent Commission against corruptions

5. Customary Land Reforms

6. Waisisi, Aluta and Baunani Oil Palm Projects and Malaita and Guadalcanal Out Growers Oil Palm Projects

7. Tourism development

8. National Peace and State Building

9. Relocation of National Referral Hospital

10. Rebuilding of Provincial Hospital

11. Rural Transport Infrastructures

12. Shipping Initiatives

13. Support to Provincial Infrastructures

14. Rural Development Projects

15. Land development

16. Establishing the Capacity to plan and Monitor DCCG Policies through Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC)

17. Community Fisheries livelihood

18. Tina Hydro Project

19. Undersea Broadband Development Project

20. Revitalisation of DBSI

21. Redirect CEMA

22. Reinvigoration of Investment Corporation Solomon Islands (ICSI)

23. Review of a number of Legislations

24. Provincial Township Projects

25. Health and Education Infrastructure and ongoing services

26. Support to SINU Transition to University

27. Support to Provincial Government Support Programs

28. Support and strengthening of Police and Correctional Institution

29. Support and strengthening of Law and Justice

30. Mini Cannery – Tataba, Tenaru and Tulagi

31. Suava Bay & Bina Habour International Port/Onshore Fish Processing

32. Reacquisition of Russel Islands Plantations Project to develop a major Tourism Destination

33. 4th USP Campus project

34. Disabilities, youth and women

35. Agro-forestry (New Georgia)

36. Fiu Hydro Project

Fundamental Reforms focus on Constitution Reform, Political Reform and Land Reform.

Recent Governments have expended huge amounts of resources and funds on Constitution Reform over the years, with a subsequent formulation of the Federal Constitution. Hence, the DCC Government will be committed towards the completion of this particular reform during its tenure. For 2015 it allocates:

- $2.0 million to support manpower to progress the program and activities of the traditional leaders and other stakeholders towards peace building.

- $7.7 million to support work on dealing with existing and emerging threats to peace in the country;

- $3.0 million on post conflict rehabilitation program

- $3.3 million for the establishment and operation of the OPMC Policy evaluation Unit

- $0.5 million to carry out consultation in the provinces

- $5.3 million to meet additional operational cost for implementing and monitoring DCC Government Policies

- $1.7 million to meet operational cost of carrying out the Political Parties Intergrity Act review

- $13.2 million additional funding to cater for new manpower and other charges costs for OPMC to support reforms in 2015.

Sectoral Reforms include Economic and Finance Sector Reforms, Productive Sector Reforms, Development Sector Reforms, Resource Sector Reforms, Security Sector Reforms and Social Sector Reforms.

Practically Speaking for the Economic and Financial Reforms, Government will rehabilitate the Development Bank of Solomon Islands, redirect the Commodities Export Marketing Authority and reinvigorate the Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands. Following is the allocation.

- $70.9 million to improve economic reforms and quality of Public Finance Management (PFM) and Budget execution, service delivery and revenue to Solomon islands Government and citizens. Also included allocation for initial work on reforms to State own Enterprises (SOEs).

Among the eleven priorities in the Productive Sector Reform, rural road infrastructure is rated as the most important reform giving a total budget of $65.0 million. Second and third to that is $42.8 million awarded for land purchase, land development, preparation and construction program. $19.5 million is targeted for Tourism Development and Institutional Strengthening Program. Others are as follows:

- $5.0 million to Tourism developments

- $5.0 million to the rehabilitation and development of rural coconut plantations

- $3.8 milion to cocoa production, employment and income benefits for the rural population

- $4.0 million to the national Oil Palm Programme

- $4.5 million on Industrial and Commercial Estate Development

- $3.6 million on private sector and MSME Development and economic Growth centres

- $6.1 million on improving fisheries infrastructure to support livelihood programs.

For the Development Sector Reforms, Constituency Development Program (SIG) took up bulk of the budget with a total of $260.0 million, seconded by $70.0 million for ROC support to Constituency Development. Third is $60 million towards construction of roads for social and economic benefit. The rest are:

- $10.0 million to Ministry of Infrastructure Development for construction and planned maintenance to government owned buildings

- $30.0 million to assist shipping initiatives across Solomon Islands

- $38.1 million for road, buildings and airports maintenance

- $1.2 million to fund the new constituency development division

- $4.0 million towards scoping and initial assessments of rural development centres

Resources Sector Reform includes:

- Downstream Processing Programme which is allocated $10.4 million,

- followed by $10.0 million allocated for Renewable Energy Development Programme;

- $5.1 million on electrification of rural communities and households and

- $4.0 million to manage and monitor tailings Dam at Gold Ridge.

Security Sector includes the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Justice and Legal Affairs and National Judiciary.

Operational cost for policing and correctional services tops additional funding allocated for the security sector for 2015 with a total of $29.2 million.

Others are: $17.3 million for Police and Correctional Services Development program, $5.1 million for Justice and Legal Affairs Development Program, another $5.1 million for magistrates and court operation in Honiara and provinces, $3.0 million for National Judiciary Institutional Infrastructure program and $1.7 million for Justice operational cost.

The Social Sector is described as the largest Sector in the Government both in terms of scope and funding. This includes Government following nine line Ministries and other twenty - four key social sector reforms for 2015.

- Education, Foreign Affairs, Health, Provincial Government, Public Service, Home Affairs, Peace & Reconciliation, Women, Youth & Children Affairs and Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology.

Funding to transitioning SICHE into SINU topped the twenty – four key social sector reform with an overall amount of $60.0 million, seconded by a $40.0 million to improve service delivery in provinces through Provincial Government Strengthening Program in provinces, a $30.6 million funding to basic education that includes early childhood, primary, secondary and rural training centre schools. $22.0 million to rehabilitate, reconstruct educational infrastructures, $21.0 million to improve water and sanitation system in 50 constituencies, $15.0 million to improve provincial governments, $14.0 million for health improvement, $11.2 million to return 36 doctors to Cuba and graduating nurses took up most of the budget among these total of twenty-four. Others are:

- $4.0 million for national centre for women, $1.5 million for National sports stadium, $5.0 million provincial institutional infrastructure development programme, $3.7 million additional funding for township development in Choiseul, Guadalcanal, Makira; $4.0 million for bye elections in Parliament in case of petitions, death, health reasons or imprisonment; $2.5 million additional funding for legislation review of citizenship act, censorship act, gaming & lotteries act, Honiara City Council Act; $0.6 million additional for lands aquisistion, $3.3 million additional funding to fixed grants to provincial governments, $0.6 million funding for environment health regulatory core business; $1.0 million additional for St Vincent Hospital, Australia to improved Health treatment options for Solomon Islanders; $0.5 million of new positions and upgrades for the Ministry of education; $1.5 million for planning for new SI High Commission in Suva; $5.0 million additional to support disaster relief work currently being taken and assistance to Vanuatu disaster efforts; $2.3 million to re-open and fund Geneva mission and $1.9 million additional funding for the Jakarta Mission grant.

Meanwhile, the Hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury assured that the 2015 Budget will require no additional borrowing by the Government. It is fully funded through the combination of domestic revenue, external budget support and cash reserves that successive Governments have built up over recent years.

He, however, acknowledged that the greatest challenge will be the execution of the budget.

“For Government to do this, it will require from the Government a willingness to make difficult choices in an open political context, the restoration of accountability and transparency in Government and a willingness of diverse groups and provinces in the country to accept sacrifice for the common national good.”

Parliament is adjourned and will resume on Tuesday 7th of April 2015 where it is expected to debate and later scrutinize the budget through the committee of supply and consequently take the budget to the third reading and do pass it.

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