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PARLIAMENT MEETING IS ADJOURNED TO 18TH JULY 2018    

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

News and Information

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

WEDNESDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2018

The 7th meeting of the 10th Parliament will commence on Wednesday the 28th of February 2018.

This was after the conclusion of its 6th meeting on Monday the 27th of November last year through a sine die motion.

On Monday this week (12th February 2018), Prime Minister Hon. Rick Houenipwela has issued a letter of notification of commencement of Parliament meeting to His Excellency the Governor General Sir Frank Ofagioro Kabui GCMG CSI OBE.

Hon. Rick Houenipwela stated in the letter “As Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Solomon Islands, and in the spirit of the Section 32 of the Constitution, I write to advise you of my decision to convene the first meeting of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for 2018 on Wednesday 28th February, 2018.”

Clerk to Parliament Clezy Rore has also confirmed receiving the confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that Parliament will commence its first sitting for 2018 at the end of this month (28th February) thus he is now working around the clock in notifying all Members of Parliament as mandated under Standing Order 7(2) of the National Parliament Standing Orders.

It is too early to tell what would be the government business for that day’s order paper but obviously the 2018 budget estimates will surely be the main one.

However, there are seven bills that are still before the House to consider. These include six outstanding Bills from 2016 and 2017 and one new one for 2018:

  1. The Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018
  2. The Anti-Corruption Bill 2017
  3. The Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill 2017
  4. The Citizenship Bill 2017
  5. The Strata Titles Bill 2017
  6. The Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017
  7. The Legal Profession Bill 2017
  8. The Whistle-blowers Protection Bill 2016

Only 3 bills were passed in the 6th meeting from 26 June 2017 – 24 Nov 2017. These include:

  1. The Ombudsman Act 2017
  2. The 2017 Supplementary Appropriation (No.2) Act 2017
  3. The Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2017

Meanwhile, Parliament is also expecting the 2018 budget estimates to be introduced and debated at this meeting.

MONDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2018

The Committee Secretariat together with the Office of the Auditor General has formed a Budget Team as part of its preparatory work to consider the upcoming 2018 Draft Estimates and those that will come in the future.

This is a new initiative as the Committee Secretariat Team felt that it’s time to add some new ideas to effectively carry out the legislative scrutiny role beginning With the upcoming hearings on the 2018 Budget estimates.

This team consisted of staff from the Committee Secretariat, the Research & Library staff, the Accounts Department of the National Parliament Office and Officers from the Auditor General’s office.

In welcoming the training participants, clerk to the Public Accounts Committee, Mrs. Jasmine Waleafea mentioned that the Committee’s working theme for this year is to “Be Proactive” in our given roles.

She said that much have been discussed on the issues of “committee effectiveness and efficiency” in holding the executive to account, but disseminating it is often a challenging task.

During the training, participants endorsed a briefing template for PAC Members as well as citing the proposed Budget Briefing Paper on the budget; which awaits technical support from Fiji, New Zealand and the Scotland Parliament.

The team from Fiji, New South Wales and New Zealand Parliaments are expected to arrive in a few weeks’ time.

Other sessions included identifying issues from the budget, developing questions, managing the Inquiry and concluded with a rapporteur exercise on an assimilative PAC Hearing footage.

With the initiatives that the Parliamentary Budget Team wishes to roll out with this year’s Appropriation Bill, stakeholders would note that the Committee is chartering new waters in their given role to fulfil legislative financial scrutiny.

The PAC clerk concluded that the Committee is hoping to ensure an effective financial oversight on the 2018 Draft Estimates as well as to delivering on an efficient secretarial support in this upcoming inquiry.

THURSDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2017

The Bills and Legislation Committee has concluded a one day inquiry into the Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Wednesday 22nd November 2017.

This Bill aims to change the time limit for differing elections of the Provincial Assembly from 60 days to 12 months. This is necessary for two reasons; first to allow voter registration to take place prior to the holding of Choiseul and Western Provincial elections this year, and secondly to work towards the alignment of provincial elections.

The objects and reasons of the Bill further stated; to depart from the default position where elections of a Provincial Assembly must be held on the fourth anniversary of the previous elections.

There are two requirements that the Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening must first meet. Firstly, the Minister must be satisfied that such action is necessary and in the public interest. Secondly, the Minister must have consulted the matter of deferment with the Premier of the relevant province. The Bill does not seek to change these requirements so as to ensure that this power is not abused.

It was stated that in the past, the Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening has either used section 47 of the Provincial Government Act 1997 incorrectly or introduced a new Bill to defer elections of a Provincial Assembly each time the need arose.

With this amendment of the Bill in extending the statutory limit to up to 12 months, it is predicted that there will no longer be a need to introduce a new Bill or seek clarification of section 47 of the Provincial Government Act 1997 each time a circumstances arises in the future whereby the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening are unable to conduct elections within the timeframe.

Provincial Premiers and MPA’s who have appeared before the Bills and Legislation Committee supported the amendment saying it was also one of their recommendations discussed in their annual Premiers conference.

The Provincial Government (Amendment) Bill 2017 is expected to be passed this Thursday 23rd November, before Parliament adjourns Sine Die on Friday 24th November 2017.

THURSDAY 16TH NOVEMBER 2017

Solomon Islands new PM Hon. Hou.Solomon Islands new Prime Minister, Hon. Rick Hou.

Hon. Rick Houenipwela was elected on Wednesday the 15th of November 2017 as the new Prime Minister for Solomon Islands.

Hon. Rick Hou who is the Member for Small Malaita Constituency won by 33 votes while the other candidate, Hon. John Moffat Fugui, Member of the Central Honiara Constituency got 16 votes. One ballot is described as spoilt.

Hon. Rick Hou was first elected to the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for Small Malaita Constituency on 4 August 2010 and was re-elected to the same Constituency on 19th November 2014.

He is a Member of the Democratic Alliance Party and was Chairman of Public Accounts Committee from 23 December 2014 - to date.

The Prime Minister elect was Minister of Finance and Treasury from 21 November 2011 to 8th September 2014 and Minister of Public Service from 18 April 2011 to 10 November 2011.

Hon. Rick Hou holds a Bachelor of Accounting, Diploma of Commerce and Graduate Diploma Dev. Administration.

His occupation before entering Parliament was:

  • Senior Advisor, Executive Director, World Bank and
  • Governor to Central Bank of Solomon Islands

The 59 year old is from Riverside village of Small Malaita, Malaita Province.

Meanwhile the other candidate, Hon. John Moffat Fugui is of the United Democratic Party and was elected to the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for Central Honiara Constituency on 4 August 2010.

He was re-elected to the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for Central Honiara Constituency on 19 November 2014 and was elected as Deputy Speaker of Parliament on 17 December 2014 to 28th October 2015.

Hon. Fugui was Chairman- of Special Select Committee on the Short Bus Routes in Honiara -25th April to 8th August 2013.

He then held the following portfolios:

  • Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology from 27 August 2010 to 11 November 2011
  • Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology from 21 November 2011 to 18 October 2012
  • Minister for Education and Human Resources Development from 28th October 2015 to 4th August 2017 and was
  • Minister for Public Service from 4th August 2017 to 28th October 2017

Hon. Fugui holds the following qualifications:

  • Ph.D. (abd) Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
  • M.A. Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 1998.
  • M.A. Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 1994.
  • M.A. Department of Political Science, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, 1988.
  • B.A. Department of Political Science, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 1986.
  • PhD Dissertation

    “Rethinking State, Development, and Democratization in Solomon Islands.”
    Chair: Professor Deane Neubauer

He holds the following occupation before entering Parliament:

  • Secretary to Government Caucus, Prime Minister’s Office,2008
  • Secretary to the Leader of Opposition, 2006 – 2007.
  • Political Advisor, Prime Minister’s Office, 2001 – 2006
  • Part-time Tutor, University of the South Pacific - Honiara Center, “Democracy and Democratization,” Summer 2001.
  • Member of the Hiring Committee and the Admission Committee in the Political Science Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1996-1997.
  • Teaching Assistant to Professor Geoffrey White and Tisha Hickson, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, summer, 1997.
  • Parliament Researcher. Carry out research and investigate the possibility of a Research Unit in the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Honiara, 1995.
  • History/Political Tutor at the University of the South Pacific Center, Honiara, Solomon Islands, 1995.
  • Part-time Tutor for the Sixth and Seventh Form students at the King George Sixth School, Honiara, Solomon Islands, 1995.
  • Senior Policy Analyst and Political and Constitutional Adviser in the Policy Evaluation Unit, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Responsible for drawing up of the Program of Action (POA) of the government and evaluation of the performance of the different Ministries per POA. Also responsible for political and constitutional issues; setting up of Parliamentary Standing Committees; review of Parliamentary Standing Orders; repatriation of the National Constitution; Ministry of Police and Justice; Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development; reviewing of the Provincial Government system; negotiating Aid Assistance from various aid donors including the IMF and the Work Bank, 1989 – early 1992.
  • Advisor and Consultant to the Alliance Party Think Tank for purposes of drawing up policies, campaign strategies, directions and reviewing of the Alliance Party Constitution, 1988-1990.
  • Bank Teller, Commonwealth Bank of Solomon Islands, 1979.

The 56 year old is of Fourau village, Malaita Province.

Meanwhile, Acting Governor General, Hon. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu who conducted the elections announced the results to the public at the Parliament Eastern Entrance straight after counting was done in the chamber.

The election is conducted in secret ballot by all 50 Members of Parliament and was presided over by the Acting Governor General, Hon. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu, who is also Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands assisted by Secretary to Governor General, Clerk and officers of National Parliament Office.

The Prime Minister elect was sworn in at the Government House at 2pm the same day, a couple of hours after the election at the National parliament chamber.

Parliament will resume tomorrow Thursday the 16th of November 2017 at 9:30am after the special adjournment Parliament had on Monday 6th November 2017.

However, it is highly likely Parliament will have another special to allow the new PM to sort his new Ministers.

TUESDAY 7TH NOVEMBER 2017

Hon. Dr Derek Sikua when moving the motion in Parliament. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Parliament replied to remarks made against him.
Hon. Dr Derek Sikua when moving the motion in Parliament. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Parliament replied to remarks made against him .

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was defeated in the motion of no confidence moved against him on Monday 6th November 2017.

Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu in his remarks before the motion was moved stated that the reason for the practice of a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister is twofold.

  1. A motion of no confidence in the prime Minister implies amongst other things that the government does not have the numerical strength to govern. This is a serious issue in which Parliament must deal with at the first available opportunity. If there is doubt as to the majority of support commanded by the Prime Minister in this House, it must be tested as soon as possible because to have a minority government administering the affairs of the country would run contrary to the established principle of ‘majority rule’ which is a rudimentary basis upon which our Constitution and parliamentary democracy is premised on. I do not think that this would be in the best interest of this nation.
  2. Secondly, if there is clearly a lack of support for the Prime Minister, this implies that the required numerical strength is not on the Government side but on the opposing side of the House. The situation where the opposing side commands the required majority could lead to deliberate hindrance of Government business here on the floor of Parliament and thereby stalling Parliamentary business. That would not be a good situation to be in because the Government must be able to continue to implement its policies and deliver services to the people of this country and Parliament must be able to continue its business.”

Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua, Leader of the Independent Group then moved:

“That the National Parliament of Solomon Islands resolves that it has no confidence in the Prime Minister.”

Voting was done through a division and the results were 27 for the motion and 23 against the motion.

It is a matter of parliamentary practice that a motion of no confidence takes precedence over other parliamentary business or items of business that can or ought to be set down on the Order Paper for that particular sitting.

This means that a motion of no confidence must be dealt with as soon as possible and it may be required to be debated on days allotted for government business and not necessarily on Fridays only which is private members’ day.

Although the motion is passed, the Honourable Prime Minister remains in office and performs his normal duties until he is officially removed by His Excellency, the Governor-General, in accordance with Section 34 (1) of the Constitution.

Section 34 (1) of the constitution states:

“If a resolution of no confidence in the Prime Minister is passed by Parliament by an absolute majority of the votes by members thereof the Governor General shall remove the Prime Minister from office, whereupon the members of Parliament shall meet as soon as possible during the same session of Parliament to elect a new Prime Minister in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 2 to this constitution.”

Parliament is adjourned until the day after a new Prime Minister has been elected.

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