MONDAY 13RD OCTOBER 2014
Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza has officially tendered his resignation on Friday the 10th of October 2014.
Sir Allan did not state his reasons for the resignation, however, he based it on section 64(2) (a) of the Constitution.
Section 64(2)(a) of the Constitution stipulates, the office of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker shall become vacant if he announces the resignation of his office to Parliament or if, by writing under his hand addressed to Parliament and received by the Clerk to the Legislature, he resigns that office.
The Constitution does not stipulate what would happen to the Speaker’s Office when the Speaker resigned, however, Section 65 of the Constitution states: “Provided that at the first sitting of Parliament after any general election, until a Speaker is elected there shall preside the person who last held office as Speaker or, in his absence, the person who last held office as Deputy Speaker.”
The election of a new Speaker is expected to take place at the first sitting of the next House.
THURSDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2014
A one week Training for Hansard staff of the National Parliament was successfully concluded last week.
The training was coordinated by two New Zealand Parliament Staff, Lawrence Patchett and John Greenless at the Paul Tovua Complex.
The training which was described as timely was part of the Hansard Departments 2014 Department work plan (DAWP). To develop and up skill Hansard staff and to review Hansard’s editing manuals.
This included upgrading and development of an in-house dictionary and reference manuals where Hansard officers can use as a guide in producing daily parliamentary reports.
One issue that was highlighted during the training is the issue of producing Hansard in a timely manner, and ways to enable stakeholders to have access to Hansard information through available mediums such as the Parliamentary official website.
Currently the Hansard department has recruited 5 new officers, therefore, this training will equipped them in developing relevant technical skills and knowledge that is required to effectively discharge their responsibilities.
During the course of the training Lawrence Patchett and John Greenless highlighted what New Zealand Hansard do in practice. They emphasized on developing an in house Dictionary and referencing manual that will enable the accurate and consistent use of parliamentary references.
Discussions were also based on the technicality of translation and other issues Hansard staff faced in Reporting and Editing of Hansard scripts; ways to minimize the challenges encountered and the implications National Parliament might face in the process of dissemination of Information to the public and stakeholders.
During the training the two experts also raised the need to have on-going external mentoring between the two Parliaments in order to continue to review and develop the current resources.
This is to cater for the continuous changes in information received and disseminated by Parliaments and to meet the acceptable standard of Hansarding that Parliaments in Developed nations like New Zealand and Australia have.
It is anticipated that future training programs which involved external mentoring between New Zealand Parliament, Solomon Islands Parliament and other Parliaments in the Parliament twinning Program will continue to safeguard implications that may relate to vocabulary and linguistic abuse experienced by other parliament.
THURSDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2014
Parliament has strongly condemned claims in an article written by Alfred Sasako in the Island Sun Newspaper that an ultimatum was given by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for former members of Parliament to provide evidence about how they used millions of dollars in Constituency grants or face prosecution.
The article which titled, “Former MPs given ultimatum on Constituency Grants,” is not true and is misleading.
Claims by Mr. Sasako that sources said, “the ultimatum by the Public Accounts Committee has angered caretaker Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, who blamed former speaker, Sir Allan Kemakeza for allowing the PAC to scrutinize the use of Constituency grants,” were false and misleading.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee [PAC] has not conducted any enquiry or distributed any questionnaire relating to the distribution or use of constituency grants by Members of Parliament over the past eight years.
The PAC has not issued any report on any enquiry held by the PAC into audit reports submitted by the Auditor General in the 9th Parliament. The hearings into several audit reports held by PAC in June and July 2014 were completed too close to the dissolution of the 9th Parliament for a report to be finalized and tabled, and these reports will be prepared for any future Parliament to consider.
It would have only been proper and ethical for Sasako and the Editor of the Island Sun Newspaper to verify those facts with Parliament before going ahead to publicize the article.
Parliament had cautioned the media to take extra care when receiving articles from writers who depend on other sources other than Parliament to provide them with information regarding the scrutiny role of Parliamentary Committees and other incidents or events that happened in Parliament. This is to avoid misinforming the public.
WEDNESDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 2014
The Young Women’s Parliamentary Group (YWPG) on Tuesday 16th September underwent a group Pap smear test at the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood (SIPPA).
This was part of their campaign against cervical cancer. The theme for this campaign is ‘Fight Like a Girl’. The young women took the step to do the test and decided to go public about it.
Sexually related diseases are usually frowned upon and are not something that is openly discussed. Women find it embarrassing and are ashamed to come forward to take the test. The group did this public awareness so that other women can also come forward.
For the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group members, some of them are doing this for the first time and it is quite a challenge as well as one of them commented.
On that note YWPG Advisor Ms Marisa Pepa said they are hopeful to work with the new government thru the Ministry of Health to see the process of results is done quickly as lives are at stake.
Ms Marisa Pepa further explained that they will be conducting another group test sometime next month and she urges all the young women out there to get tested as well.
TUESDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER 2014
A fourth stakeholders’ information workshop was conducted and ended successfully for SOEs and Statutory Bodies on Parliamentary Committees at the National Parliament Paul Tovua Complex on Friday the 12th of July 2014.
The Committee Secretariat Department at the National Parliament has again organized this one day workshop for stakeholders with the aim to inform our State Own Enterprises (SOEs) on the roles of Parliamentary Committees and how they can assist in Parliamentary oversight roles.
Two of these similar workshops were held in 2013 for the Civil Society Groups and Public Servants, another one in early July this year for the Permanent Secretaries and senior government officials and the recent one was for all SOEs and statutory bodies.
Main areas covered during the workshop included:
•Roles and functions of Parliament
•Roles and the functions of the Parliamentary Committees, what they are and their role in the Parliamentary democracy
•Learning how to participate in the Parliamentary Inquiry, giving evidence before the Committee and how to make submission to Parliament
•Information sharing between SOEs, statutory bodies and the Committee Secretariat
This workshop which is aimed at building affirmative networking and support with its stakeholders was described as an eye opening for most participants.
Guest Speakers at the workshop were the former Chairman of Bills and Legislation Committee, Mr. Manasseh Sogavare and former Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Mr. Douglas Ete .
Both former Chairpersons explained in great detail the work of the committees and the importance of building affirmative networking and reporting with stakeholders.
FRIDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER 2014
The 9th Parliament was officially dissolved on Monday the 8th of September 2014.
On that day, the Speaker of the National Parliament, Sir Allan Kemakeza hosted a farewell dinner at the Monarch Bar and Grill at the Iron Bottom Sound Hotel to thank and farewell the outgoing Members of Parliament (MPs).
He also thanked the Office of the Sergeant at Arms for upholding the traditions and propriety of the Chamber. Sir Allan then thanked all Parliamentary staff for their professionalism under the guidance and leadership of the Clerk.
“Parliament could not function without the tireless effort and work of all Parliamentary staff whose professionalism is a credit to the Leadership of the Clerk to Parliament and her vibrant team.”
The Speaker of Parliament also offered his special thank you to the outgoing Prime Minister Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo and the outgoing ministers of the Crown and backbenchers for their driving policy and legislative implementation for the country and the life of the 9th Parliament.
Likewise he thanked the Leader of Opposition and members of the Opposition bench for their watchdog roles to the Government as well as the Independent Leader and team for their valuable discussions and debates.
Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Maelanga who spoke on behalf of the former Government MPs took the time to thank the Speaker and staff of the Parliament for a job well done.
Hon. Maelanga also asked the Speaker and the Parliamentary Staff to forgive the outgoing leaders if their actions have offended Parliament.
The Leader of the Independent Group and former MP for West AreAre Hon. John Maneniaru also articulated the same sentiments.
Speaking on behalf of the Independent and Opposition Group Hon Maneniaru said, “Despite the challenges it has been a joy to be a member of the ninth Parliament.”
He also asked Parliament to forgive their groups, the Opposition and Independent if they have not live up to their watch-dog roles effectively.
Ms Grace Hilly, Chairlady of the Young Women Parliamentary Group (YWPG) had also made remarks during the dinner.
She thanked all the outgoing MPs of the Ninth Parliament, especially for their support towards the short bus route report and the recently passed Family Protection Bill 2014.
The dinner was attended by former Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena, Heads of Diplomatic missions, Donor Representatives, Officials from various Government Ministries, Staff of the National Parliament and family members of the outgoing MPs.
FRIDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 2014
Parliament has passed the Prime Minister’s (Pensions and Benefits) Bill 2014 on the 4th of September 2014.
The Bill, which is now an Act of Parliament proposes to provide pensions and other benefits for former Prime Ministers.
In effect, this means that a former Prime Minister who has held the Office of the Prime Minister on or after the 7th of July 1978 will be paid a pension at an annual rate of 60% of the current salary payable to the incumbent.
Where a Prime Minister dies while he is the Prime Minister or while he is entitled to receive a pension, his spouse will be entitled to be paid that pension at an annual rate of 40% of the pension receivable by the pensioner at the time of his death.
The pension payable cannot be assigned or transferred except for satisfying a debt due to the government or payment of spousal and child maintenance ordered by any court or any levy attached or sequested thereto.
The Bill was passed with no amendments.
THURSDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2014
Parliament has passed the 2014 Supplementary Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2014 on Tuesday the 2nd of September 2014.
The house has appropriated an additional amount of One hundred and eighty seven million, eight hundred and thirty nine thousand, and five hundred and sixty four dollars (SBD$187,839,564) to the service of the year ending 31st December 2014.
This included additional recurrent and development expenditures and, expenditure incurred by the issue of contingencies warrants and advance warrants.
A total of Seven Million, Three Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Dollars ($7,399,000) are expenditures under contingencies warrants.
Expenditures under Advance Warrants are Eighty Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Forty
Additional Supplementary Expenditures as estimated to a total of Eighty Million, One Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand and Seven Hundred and Fifty Two Dollars and a total of $11,400,000 for new budget support development expenditures.
Finally, this Bill also appropriated an additional budget support funding of $530, 000, to meet the salaries of six additional staff joining the Ministry of Fishers and to fund over time needed to complete tasks due to staff shortage. This funding is fully offset by a re-appropriation.
The Bill was passed with no amendments.
MONDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2014
The Minister of Finance and Treasury, Hon. Rick Hou has introduced the 2014 Supplementary Appropriation (No.2) Bill 2014 in Parliament yesterday.
The Bill is to appropriate an additional One hundred and eighty seven million, eight hundred and thirty nine thousand, and five hundred and sixty four dollars to the service of the year ending 31st December 2014.
Introducing the Bill, Hon. Hou said, as a Government it has to ensure that respect is maintained and improved with development partners, our children and citizens continue to be educated and up-skilled, our clinics and hospitals continue to function, our sovereignty and security is maintained, and our justice system continue to function efficiently.
Therefore, to secure our independence and pride as a sovereign nation, the Government must continue with key investments in social services, infrastructure development and the productive sector.
“Sir will continue to respond to the demands for services by our people and as before, government may have to, where absolutely necessary, trade off lower priorities with those that are becoming more critical,” he said.
He highlighted two incidents that have had negatively impacted our economy this year since the 2014 budget was delivered. They were the April flash floods and the suspension of production at the Gold Ridge Mine (GRM). Both of which are very significant.
That being the case, Hon. Rick Hou said the Government has made the most out of our financial avenues to fund flood-related costs.
“In this connection, we must thank our development partners, non-government organizations, business houses and individuals for their generous support in one way or the other,” Hon. Hou said.
The Object of the Bill is to supplement additional appropriation of the sum of of One Hundred and Eighty Seven Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Sixty Four Dollars (SBD$187,839,564) to be authorised under the 2014 Supplementary Appropriation Act (NO2) 2014 for the service of the year ending 31st December 2014.
This includes additional recurrent and development expenditures and, expenditure incurred by the issue of contingencies warrants and advance warrants.
The Honourable Minister of Finance when introducing the Bill outlined the breakdown of expenditures as follows:
A total of Seven Million, Three Hundred Ninety Nine Thousand Dollars ($7,399,000) are expenditures under contingencies warrants for the following:
In terms of Expenditures under Advance Warrants a total of Eighty Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Forty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Twelve Dollars ($88,840,812) were spent under advance warrants for recurrent and development expenditures funded by various donors as follows:
Additional Supplementary Expenditures as estimated to a total of Eighty Million, One Hundred and Ninety Nine Thousand and Seven Hundred and Fifty Two Dollars for the following:
The Bill also seeks to legalise the following new budget support development expenditures:
Finally, this Bill also seeks to provide additional budget support funding of $530, 000, to meet the salaries of six additional staff joining the Ministry of Fishers and to fund over time needed to complete tasks due to staff shortage. This funding is fully offset by a re-appropriation.
Hon. Rick Hou said Parliament appreciating this 2014 Supplementary Appropriation Bill (NO. 2) 2014 is to regularize expenditures which had been incurred by the Government through Contingencies and Advance Warrants.
It also seeks additional funding to fund election and flood-related expenditures among other important commitments for the service of the Government and the people of Solomon Islands.
Inquiries into this Bill by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will begin today, also at the National Parliament House.
The Bill is currently in the second reading before the House and Parliament is adjourned until 9:30am on Friday 29th of September 2014 to give time for the PAC to conduct its inquiries into this Bill.