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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:

  • $2,000,000 was allocated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to cater for the Solomon Islands participation at the recent 5th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in Papuan New Guinea.
  • $5,399,000 to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology for Solomon Islands annual contribution to the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Secretariat and additional funding towards emergency operational costs for the April Flash Floods.

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:

  • $4,000,000 Budget Support provided by Papua New Guinea through the Consolidated Fund to support RSIPF and CCSSI to provide assistance towards the April Flash Flood Disaster
  • $638,271 Budget Support provided by Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through Accountable Cash Grants to implement SPC/US AID Project: Land and Vegetation Cover and Improving Food Security for Building Resilience to a Changing Climate in SI Communities.
  • $6,000,000 Budget Support provided by Papua New Guinea to rehabilitate schools affected by the April 2014 floods.
  • $1,532,741 Budget Support provided by World Bank through Accountable Cash Grants to establish the Secretariat Office of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and its activities.
  • $11,409,420 Budget Support provided by World Health Organization, Secretariat of Pacific Community, Fiji School of Medicine, Fred Hollows Foundation, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine through Accountable Cash Grant on disaster management, tobacco control, HIV/STI, immunization, specialist clinical services, and distribution of Azithromycin
  • $5,550,00 Budget Support through Accountable Cash Grant by the Australia Federal Police for work on the RSIPF Forensic Facility Project
  • $7,870,000 Budget Support provided by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Republic of China (ROC) through the Accountable Cash Grant for NDMO to support emergency relief and repatriation efforts.
  • $16,963,935 provided by Australia, New Zealand and World Bank through the Accountable Cash Grant for the Transport Management System, Revenue Management System, Household Income and Expenditure Survey, and ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) project.
  • $3,876,445 provided by WTO for the Solomon Islands Tourism Inclusive Development Project.
  • $31,000,000 provided by PNG for the shipping grant initiative program and payment of arrears for the reconstruction of Munda Airport.

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:

  • $4,000,000 to be allocated to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development for the Doma USP Campus to clear the site
  • $8,659,825 for capital injection to Solomon Airlines for purchase of a twin otter aircraft and additional funding to cater for the implementation of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) project in 2014.
  • $1,000,000, to be allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the re-opening of the Geneva Mission.
  • $877,135, for additional funding to the National Parliament for the maintenance of generator and pluming works at the PT Complex.
  • $4,320,000, to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for water, Constitutional Reform Program, overseas subscription, and remuneration of the new Commissioner of Police
  • $13,449,800, additional funds for Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) flood assistance and Corrections evacuation of prisoners during flash floods, and logistical support for the National General Election.
  • $1,634,516, additional funding to meet ongoing and new apprenticeship program student allowances mandated by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration
  • $4,000,000, additional funding to cater for maintaining Henderson International airport and provincial airports.
  • $7,000,000, for public servants retirees that are eligible for Long and Dedicated Service Benefit (LDSB).
  • $258,476, additional funding to the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs for house rentals to cater for new terms and conditions of magistrates
  • $35,000,000, to be allocated to the Ministry of Home Affairs for additional funding for the National General Election in 2014.

The Bill also seeks to legalise the following new budget support development expenditures:

  • An additional funding of $10,000,000, provided by Papua New Guinea through the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services to support the police infrastructure in Lofang and Babanakira and,
  • $1,400,000, provided by Papua New Guinea to through the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to support the expansion of the Community Fisheries Livelihood program.

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.

THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 2014

Parliament has passed the Family protection Bill 2014 on Wednesday the 27th of August 2014.

The Bill when it becomes an Act prohibits conducts, or threats of such conduct, committed by a person against another person. This includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. These forms of abuse are further defined in the Bill.

It also defines the types of relationships in which domestic violence can occur. The Bill is a mixture of criminal and civil law. Whilst it criminalizes behaviors relating to domestic violence, it also provides civil remedies to protect victims in ensuring their safety.

The penalty for committing domestic violence is $30,000 or a 3 year imprisonment term or both.

The Bill was passed with no amendments.
Meanwhile, Parliament is adjourned until 9:30am on Friday the 27th August 2014.

WEDNESDAY 27TH AUGUST 2014

Members of Parliament made obituary speeches in Parliament this morning in respect of the late Member of Parliament for Temotu Pele. Hon. Martin Magga who passed away at the Honiara Referral Hospital on Monday night after a long illness.

The late Hon. Magga was from Tuwo village in the Reef Islands and was born on the 11th of November 1953.He obtained a Cambridge School Certificate from Selwyn College from 1970 to 1974 and a Diploma in Diplomacy from University of PNG from 1989 to 1990.
Prior to becoming elected to Parliament, late Hon. Magga was a Civil Servant serving as Chief of Protocols, Director of Asian Section, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs before obtaining his career in politics.
He was elected to the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for the Temotu Pele Constituency on 5th April 2006. . He was re-elected on 4th August 2010 until his passing away.
During his term as a Member of Parliament, late Hon. Magga served various Ministerial portfolios including –

• Minister of Health and Medical Services from 5th May 2009 to 9th June 2009
• Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey from 21 December to 5th May 2009
• Minister of Law and Justice from November 12 2007 to December 21 2007
• Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs from 12 November to 21 December 2007

Late Hon. Magga also served as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee from 10th May 2006 to 12 November 2007.
He was commended and is remembered by his colleague Members for his dedication and commitment to his constituents and the country during his time as a Member of Parliament.

TUESDAY 26TH AUGUST 2014

Debate on the Family Protection Bill 2014 concluded today.
Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate have shown their support towards the Bill but have also expressed concern over how this Bill will impact the lives of families when it is implemented.

The Member of Parliament for East Choiseul and Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee, Hon. Manasseh Sogavare gave a very powerful speech as the first Hon Member to debate the Bill.
Given the statistics presented during the Bills and Legislation inquiries and the introduction by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Commins Mewa; Hon. Manasseh Sogavare described the issue of Domestic Violence in Solomon Islands as sickening.

“The statistics and stories of abuse are sickening. They are too graphic and immorally sensitive to describe in this Honorable house,” he said.
He said our daily newspapers are only reporting on the cases that come before the court. They are only minored fracture of the number of innocent and helpless people who suffer at the hands of people they trust as members of their families.

The Bills and Legislation Committee reviewed the Bill and made its recommendations to Parliament.
The Bill prohibits conducts, or threats of such conduct, committed by a person against another person. This includes physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. These forms of abuse are further defined in the Bill.
The Bill also defines the types of relationships in which domestic violence can occur. The Bill is a mixture of criminal and civil law. Whilst it criminalizes behaviors relating to domestic violence, it also provides civil remedies to protect victims in ensuring their safety.

The penalty for committing domestic violence is $30,000 or a 3 year imprisonment term or both.
Virtually, all Members of Parliament who contributed to the debate spoke highly of the introduction of the Bill and commended the Bill to the House.
Proceedings on the Bill will continue tomorrow when the Bill will be considered by the Committee of the Whole House, clause by clause.
Parliament adjourned and will resume at 9:30 today.

FRIDAY 22 AUGUST 2014
Parliament has passed the Solomon Islands National University (Amendment) Bill 2014 on Wednesday the 20th of August 2014.

The Bill was to amend provisions of the Solomon Islands National University Act 2012 relating to the Council of the University.

The primary object of this Bill is to facilitate more regular meetings of the council of the Solomon Islands National University.

The council has not been able to hold its regular meetings because of the impracticality of attaining the threshold of 5 appointed members to form a quorum.

The Bill amended section 24(1) (a) of Solomon Islands National University Act 2012 to reduce the requirement for the presence of 5 appointed members to a more achievable requirement of 2 appointed members.

The Bill also seeks to amend section 12(4) of the Act to provide for the general staff member of the university who is an elected member of the Council to have a 3 year term of office as an elected member. This is the same term of office as the majority of elected members.

Previously, the Act did not limit the term of office of the general staff member. All elected members are eligible for re-election when their term of office expires.

The passing of this Bill gave a total of three Bills being passed so far in this current sitting of Parliament.

FRIDAY 22 AUGUST 2014

The Family protection Bill 2014 has been introduced in Parliament on Thursday the 21st of August 2014.

The Bill when becomes an Act will provide for the protection of families from domestic violence and to promote the safety, health and well being of victims of domestic violence and for related purposes.

The Act has the following objectives:

  • To ensure the safety and protection of all persons who experience or witness domestic violence and
  • To provide, support and redress for all victims of domestic; and
  • To facilitate programs for victims of domestic violence to assist their recovery and ensure that they are able to lead a safe and healthy life; and
  • To facilitate the issue and enforcement of police safety notices and protection orders to stop domestic violence; and
  • To Implement certain principles underlying the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the convention of the rights of the child; and
  • To create offences in relation to domestic violence and provide for increased sentences for persons convicted of such offences where certain aggravating factors are present.

The Act recognizes police safety notices, protection orders, assistance to victims of domestic violence, advice, counseling, prevention and awareness of domestic violence and offences.

The Bill defines domestic violence as a conduct committed by a person against another person with whom the offender is in a domestic relationship, or the threat of such conduct, that constitutes any of the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse and
  • Economic abuse

The Act further states that a person is in a domestic relationship with another person if;

  • They are or have been family members or
  • They are parents of a child or persons who have or have had parental responsibility together for a child; or
  • They are or were in an engagement, courtship or customary relationship including an actual or perceived intimate sexual relationship of any duration; or
  • One person is a domestic worker in the other person’s household.

The Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Commins Mewa moved the second reading of the Bill yesterday, the 21st of August 2014. Debate will begin next week followed by the committee stage and third reading of the Bill.

THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST 2014

Parliament has passed the Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 on Tuesday 19th August 2014.

This Bill amended the Provincial Government Act 1997 in order to permit holding of elections on a date other than the fourth anniversary of the previous election when certain circumstances make such action necessary in the public interest.

After deliberations by some members of Parliament the bill went through the Committee stage without amendments and finally passed in third reading.

Members of Parliament who have contributed during the debate have shown their support to the Bill; however, have raised other issues one of which is to strengthen the Provincial system Maladministration and misappropriation.

This was also one of the recommendations made by the Bills and Legislation Committee in their report. Deputy Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Maelanga who was the only Government MP to speak also supported this piece of recommendation.

“We should consider administration of each provinces and how they appropriate their funds” he said.

However when winding up the debate on this Bill, the Hon Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening Hon Silas Tausinga welcomed the comments and issues raised and said that the issues are of fundamental importance and require broad and substantial changes to the provincial government act.

“If it’s done it should be part of a broader governments view to commend the BLC for their recommendations on the report”

Hon Tausinga further explained that the intention of the Bill is for the proper management of Elections programs in the provinces. He said the outcome of the bill will surely:

  1. resolve practical problems that are often arises during elections
  2. help ministry of provincial government to align provincial elections where it sees fit to save cost.
  3. resolve any uncertainties which regards to timing of the biometric register and biometric voters list

  4. Provide greater legal certainty in the potential abuse of other sections of provincial government act of 1997
  5. save money and unnecessary costs

Hon Tausinga explained that his Ministry through certain reform programs that are currently underway with the Ministry responsible for National elections through the electoral commissions is planning to undertake the major reform in the country’s electoral process.

Minister Tausinga told Parliament that the Amendment to provincial government act will surely promote transparency and accountability through proper planning, proper consultation and proper management in ensuring that democratic rights of our citizens are exercised through an election process that is free, fair and that accommodates all the development aspirations of Solomon Islanders.

“Now that the Bill is passed it will surely cemented a great legacy for the honorable house and will surely inflict trust and confidence to our people on the parliament’s recognition of exercising their rights and to install a political leader of their choice” Minister Tausinga said.

The Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2014 is the first Bill to be passed in this current seventh and final meeting of the Ninth Parliament.

THURSDAY 21ST AUGUST 2014

Parliament has passed the Business Names Bill 2014 on Wednesday the 20th August 2014.

The Act provides for the Registration and use of Business Names, for the Repeal of the Registration of the Business Names Act (cap. 178) and for related purposes.

It replaced the existing outdated Registration of Business Names law.

Unlike the current system which is paper-based and takes two to four weeks after an application is received to register a business name, the new Act provides for an electronic system which will be more efficient and would place fair costs on the private sector in Solomon Islands, particularly those in the provinces.

The new Act when implemented is expected to:

  • Reduce the time taken to register business names
  • Keep information electronically
  • Encourage more informal businesses to enter the formal economy and
  • Assist government activities such as National Provident Fund Contributions, tax enforcement and issuing business licenses.

The Business Names Bill 2014 is part of the Government’s on – going program of reforming business laws to bring them into line with modern best practice and the conditions of Business in Solomon Islands.

WEDNESDAY 20TH AUGUST 2014

The Business Names Bill 2014 is part of the Government’s on – going program of reforming business laws to bring them into line with modern best practice and the conditions of Business in Solomon Islands.

The Bill when becomes an Act will provide for the Registration and use of Business Names, for the Repeal of the Registration of the Business Names Act (cap. 178) and for related purposes.
This Act will replace the existing outdated Registration of Business Names law.
Therefore, the objects of this Bill are to:

-Ensure that, if an entity carries on a business under a business name, those who engage or propose to engage with that business can identify and contact the entity;

-To ensure that business names that are the same or almost the same as other business names, or the registered names of companies, charitable trusts or co-operative societies, are not used where that would confuse or mislead; and

-To ensure that business names that should not be used, including because they are misleading, deceptive or offensive to the public, are not used
When introducing the Bill, the Minister of Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration, Hon. Elijah Doro Muala, explained that the reason for this new Bill is that the existing Registration of Business Names Act is outdated and needs to be replaced entirely.

“The current system is paper-based and it takes two to four weeks after an application is received to register a business name,” he said.
He stated that this outdated law creates unnecessary inefficiencies and places unfair costs on the private sector in Solomon Islands and in particular those in the Provinces.

Hon. Doro Muala further elaborated that the Bill is aimed at promoting a strong private sector development and in particular the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) that has ready access to business name registration and the benefits of entering the private sector that goes with it.

According to Hon. Doro Muala the new Bill will create a more efficient business name registration system that can take less time and resources, especially for people living in rural areas who are finding it difficult to access registration of their business names.

These “Business names”, or sometimes known as “trading names”, enable entities to differentiate themselves in the market and communicate with their customers about their business activities.

He said over one thousand new businesses emerged every year in the Provinces and Villages and the existing Registration of Business Names is somewhat inaccessible for our small business to register their Businesses hence the importance to have an up to date Business Names law.

Therefore, this new Bill is intended to provide entrepreneurs with flexible ways to have their business names registered as separate entity.
The new reforming systems of the Bill are:
- Reducing the time taken to register business names
- Keeping information electronically
- Encouraging more informal businesses to enter the formal economy and
- Assisting government activities such as National Provident Fund Contributions, tax enforcement and issuing business licenses.

The passage of this Bill will be accompanied by an upgrade of the current Business Names Register to a new electronic system.
This system will also allow entities to register for business names, and provide the required reporting on-line and members of the public will have online access to the register for free.

THURSDAY 14TH AUGUST 2014

The seventh and final meeting of the ninth Parliament begun yesterday the 13th of August 2014 and was adjourned to Monday the 18th of August 2014.

Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Sir Allan Kemakeza welcomed all Members of Parliament in his opening address and informed them of the number of developments that took place since Parliament was adjourned Sine Die on the 29th of May 2014.

During the adjournment, the Public Accounts Committee held 20 hearings from the 6th June to 28th July on the following Performance Audit Reports:

  • Managing Sustainable Fisheries (Tuna Fishery) in Solomon Islands Fisheries Exclusive Economic Zone
  • National Cattle Rehabilitation Project for the Ministry of
    Agriculture & Livestock Development
  • Management of Government Motor Vehicle Fleet
  • Tertiary Scholarship Management by the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development
  • Tsunami and Earth Quake Relief Fund within the National Disaster Council under the Ministry of Home Affairs

And the following Financial Audit Reports:

  • National Transport Funds 2011 and 2012
  • 2012 SIBC Annual Report
  • 2013 SIEA Annual Report
  • 2012 Telecommunications Commission of the Solomon Islands Annual Report
  • 2013 CBSI Annual Report
  • 2013 Solomon Islands NPF Annual Report and its Subsidiaries
  • 2010 and 2012 SIG National Accounts
  • Honiara City Council 2010 Financial Statements
  • SI Ports Authority 2010 Financial Statements

Sir Allan said he is looking forward to a very lively debate this meeting on the various important issues that are before Parliament.

Parliament is adjourned to Monday the 18th of August for the following reasons:

  1. The arrival of the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mr. John Kerry yesterday afternoon.
  2. The production of a number of Bills at the Office of the Legal Draftsman would need time.
  3. Time is also needed for the Bills and Legislation Committee.

“With those important activities, I feel that it is important to adjourn till Monday,” Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said.

The House is expected to conclude before Monday the 8th of September 2014, therefore, this 9th Parliament which began on 8th September 2010 is expected to dissolve on the 8th of September 2014.

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