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PARLIAMENT MEETING IS ADJOURNED TO 18TH JULY 2018    

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

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Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

TUESDAY 10TH APRIL 2018

Mr. Willy Hiurae during the presentation to Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament were briefed on a white paper on the establishment of Solomon Islands Customary Land Commission and Solomon Islands Land Trust Board on Thursday 5th April 2018.

This briefing was made possible to Members of Parliament by the Minister of Lands and Survey, Hon. Andrew Manepora.

Private consultant to the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform Unit Willy Hiuare who is a lawyer by profession made the presentation. Mr. Hiurae has been working and living in Suva, Fiji for many years now and is now doing this consultancy work for this particular reform.

He presented the concept on Land reform, particularly the possible processes our country can use to acquire customary Land titles and anchor customary land titles for Solomon Island tribal land system.

Hiuare said the approach his team is taking is to pilot the concept first which they already did and now produced a Skeleton white paper along with technical research before they make any consultations with stakeholders and people of this country.
He said the usual way of doing things in the Solomon Islands is vice versa but for this program they are taking the opposite approach by piloting it first and putting together a white paper before making wider consultations. They only did one consultation with Malaita provincial government but feel the need to put together the white paper before consulting further.

Hon. Manepora strongly advocates for this approach since it will take into account errors and suggestions in the initial stages so what comes out in the white paper is already filtered and tidied before taking up suggestions.
This will avoid lop holes when a white paper is produced and move the work faster than the usual process.

A skeleton white paper is already produced and is ready to be presented to caucus and cabinet.

According to the timeline of this program, the team said the buck now stops with the government, thus, it is the Minister of lands who is in control of the pace of this program.

Hon. Manepora assured MPs that the skeleton white paper will be taken to caucus next week and later on to cabinet but he wants most of this work to be done in the remaining nine months he is in office.

ENDS///

20TH MARCH 2018

The parliamentary Civic Team and logistics team at Koriovuku, Ranonga

The Parliament Civic Education team is currently touring Ranonga Simbo, North Vella La Vella and South Vella La Vella constituencies.

Last week, the team of four Parliamentary staff who are assisted by members of the above constituencies successfully completed the education outreach program to Ranonga Simbo Constituency. They toured Ranonga Simbo from the 12-17 March.

The team visited Lengana Village, Riquru Primary school, Lale Village ,Sidoku Community High School, Buri Community High School, Koriovuku , Patu Village , Penuna Community High School and Suava Village.

In North Vella La Vella, the team is visiting Simbilado, Karaka community and surrounding, Karokesa Community, Boro and surrounding communities, Suanatali & Liangai surrounding communities, JAC and surrounding communities, Irigila and surrounding communities, Leona and surrounding communities and Vatoro.

In South Vella La Vella, the team will tour the following communities: Varese Village and surrounding communities, Vonunu PSS & surrounding Communities, Maravari Village & surrounding communities, Eleoteve CHS, Kolokolo and surrounding communities, Labulabu and surrounding communities

The main objective of the outreach program is to help participants to learn about the democratic system of Solomon Islands, an opportunity for community members to discuss their ideas about the democratic system and the trend of political leadership in SI.

It is also an opportunity where constituents will explore the fundamental values, ideologies and theories of traditional and modern leadership and also learn the basic and simple approaches in supporting their MPs in carrying out their role as national leaders of this country.

Additionally, they will also learn about the connection between the electoral system of Solomon Islands and National Parliament as one of the democratic arms of our state.
The people of Ranonga Simbo were very happy to receive these information as this was the first time in the history of Parliament to get down to the people of Ranonga Simbo.

As was nicely put together by Mr. Stanley of Biru Village, Ranonga Simbo constituency.
“For so long I have been asleep, today I woke up! Now I can relate I can understand what Parliament and the roles of our MPs”

The same sentiments were also echoed in all the schools the team visited and the students took the opportunity to ask a lot of questions relating to Parliament and our democratic processes.

Some of the questions raised are on the composition of Parliament committee Members, sitting arrangements in the chamber, the role of the Governor General, the difference between cabinet and caucus, motions and the role of the speaker and how he is appointed.

Acting Director of the Parliament Education Unit Ms. Marisa Pepa said she is happy to see that our rural people are beginning to understand and appreciate parliamentary democracy.

She then thanked the Chiefs and community leaders of Ranonga and Simbo for their support towards this program.

Most importantly, she thanked the Honorable Member for Ranonga Simbo , Hon. Charles Sigoto for seeing the importance of educating his people on Parliamentary processes.
This week, the team is now in North Vella constituency. They will be touring villages in that particular constituency from Monday 19th March to 23rd March and will continue to South Vella constituency in the following week (26-30 March).

The National Parliament can only able to organize one constituency visit for this year due to budget constraints, thus this is the last constituency tour for National Parliament to organise before the National Elections are held in November this year.

ENDS///

20TH MARCH 2018

The 7th meeting of the 10th Parliament is again adjourned to give time for the Public Accounts Committee to continue scrutinize the 2018 Appropriation Bill 2018.

Honorable Prime Minister, Hon. Rick Hounipwela adjourned Parliament for that particular reason as all papers required for the hearings were received late by the Committee.
The Committee only commenced the hearings on Thursday 15th March. Due to late arrival of the budget documents, this will need further time for the Committee to complete its hearings.

Prime Minister Rick Hou told PAC to be responsible in conducting the hearings without realizing that it is the Ministry of Finance who did not submit all required papers on the 2018 estimates on time.

Given that situation the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Douglas Ete thanked the Prime Minister for giving PAC some more time.

Hon Ete wrote to the Prime Minister for an extended period of time since the papers for PAC which come from the budget department do not come as a whole but on a sporadic basis giving PAC difficulty seeing all the documents on time.

PAC Chair in his remarks in the chamber said they did not receive the development budget until the 12th March and they are yet to receive the teachers’ establishment.
These are very important papers and PAC need these information for the inquiry.
Meanwhile, all parties agree to the reasons for adjournment, thus Parliament is adjourned to 26th March.

The 2018 Appropriation Bill 2018 went through the first reading on Monday 19th March and was set down for second reading.

PAC hearings are expected to end this week and hopefully the appropriation Bill will go to second reading to committee stage and third reading at the resumption of the house on the 26th.

ENDS///

WEDNESDAY 14TH MARCH 2018

The Public Accounts Committee commence hearings on the 2018 Appropriation Bill 2018 with line Ministries on Thursday 15th March 2018.

The much awaited Bill, has been tabled in Parliament on Monday 12th March 2018.
The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Douglas Ete commended the government for fulfilling its responsibility. However, he also cautioned the government on the time required for the Committee to diligently scrutiny the budget. The PAC Chairman highlighted that this budget is quite a significant one, as it is the last budget before the House dissolves.

Given that the budget documents were brought in parts through last week and over the weekend, the Chairman emphasizes that his members ought to be briefed properly before seeing all the line ministries and their subsidiaries.

Hon. Ete reiterated that this is a necessary part of the oversight process, as the Committee is obliged to table and inform Parliament on its findings and recommendations. Therefore his Committee must be accorded ample time of at least two weeks to fulfil their Constitutional and Legislative duty. The Committee has written to the Prime Minister to further adjourn Parliament, when it resumes on 19th March.

It was also understood that the National Parliament of Solomon Islands Parliamentary Budget Team has been joined by seven searchers from across several pacific parliaments, to provide support on the overall reviewing of the national budget.

This UNDP Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative engages the participation of peer parliaments namely; the New South Wales Parliament, the Federal Parliament of Australia, the New Zealand House of Representative, the Legislative Assembly of Tonga and the Parliament of Republic of Fiji. The team is due to leave at the end of this week.
ENDS///

WEDNESDAY 14TH MARCH 2018

Prime Minister, Hon. Rick Hou (Center), Speaker of National Parliament, Hon. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu and Bristish High Commissioner, His Excellency, Mr David Ward, students, teachers and staff of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands poses for a photo infront of the Paul Tovua Complex, National Parliament House.

The National Parliament Office in collaboration with the British High Commission Office has successfully commemorate the Commonwealth day at the Paul Tovua complex, Parliament House on Monday 12th March 2018.

As co-host of this event for the 2nd time, the National Parliament Office through the Civic Education unit invited students from four schools in Honiara to participate in the celebration program.

Hon. Prime Minister Rick Hounipwela was the guest at this event.

Participating schools were, Burns Creek School; Bishop Epalle School; King George VI School and St Nicholas College.

Chief Civic Education Officer Marisa Pepa described this year’s event as even more special since it’s the second time for National Parliament and the British High Commission office to have collaborated in co-hosting the Commonwealth day. The first one was hosted in 2016.

Student representatives of the participating four schools have presented their speeches based on the topic “How can the Government encourage equal participation to ensure sustainable development”.

Hon. Speaker of the National Parliament Ajilon Nasiu told the guests and students that commonwealth days helps to promote, recognize and share commonwealth values, democracy and equality since Solomon Island is amongst other 52 Commonwealth Countries that celebrated the event.

“The occasion gives us a time to reflect on the common bonds and heritage we have with the Commonwealth”

Mr Nasiu said giving voice to the youth is very important in such event like this.

He further added that student participation in speeches will develop and boost their knowledge and understanding about the commonwealth”, Mr Nasiu said.

Speaker continued by saying that the National Parliament has also recognized the role youths play and will continue to engage young people in its programs.
He then announced Parliament’s strategic focus in hosting two important events for the young people in the country later on this year, the Melanesian Youth Parliament which is scheduled for July and the National Youth Parliament which will be held around September.

Meanwhile, keynote Speaker at the event, the British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Mr David Ward, explained briefly to the students the role of the commonwealth and why we celebrated commonwealth day.

He said the theme “Towards a common future” will mean the following;

- A Fairer Future: a future in which everyone will have a fair chance; where education will be available to all, including especially girls, who in many countries are excluded from access to full education; where all are free from persecution and oppression of all forms, including especially all forms of discrimination;

- A Safer Future: a future where our citizens can be confident that they will live in peace, even from new and growing threats such as cyber-threats;

- A more Prosperous Future: where members of the Commonwealth will work together to allow their citizens to harvest the benefits of their work;

- A more Sustainable Future: a future where we will all ensure that we protect the environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we live off. Everything that makes life possible, and without which we cannot live.

The British High Commissioner also welcomed the participation of young people especially the participating schools for their speeches on the subject “How can the government encourage equal participation to ensure sustainable development?”

He told participating students that the inspiring ideas shared in their speeches on how best we can ensure everyone has a stake in their society and how to ensure that society can be sustained is already an example of the shared Commonwealth values we have of participation, debate, and discussion.
“I hope you will continue to keep up this participation in your society throughout your lives”

Mr Ward further explained that Commonwealth day is design for every member state to celebrate, understand the Commonwealth values and make recommendation for future function of the organization.

He then wished everyone a happy commonwealth day 2018 as well as congratulating the participating schools.

Commonwealth Day is held on the second Monday in March every year. It is an opportunity for individuals, communities and organizations to promote shared Commonwealth values of peace, democracy and equality, and to celebrate the association’s rich diversity.
Theme of this year’s Commonwealth Day is “Towards a common future”

End/////

TUESDAY 6TH MARCH 2018

Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela withdrew the ‘Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill 2017’ and the ‘Citizenship Bill 2017’ on Monday 5th March 2018 to sort out issues raised by the Bills and Legislation Committee.

This means both Bills will be reintroduce to Parliament after government deal with the issues raised by the Bills and Legislation Committee.
A report by the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) suggested that the Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill 2017 be differed and the Citizenship Bill 2017 be withdrawn.

The BLC made this recommendation so Government could look at the broader policy issues that the committee had raised regarding the Citizenship Bill 2017.
However, government decided to withdraw both bills since the Constitution (Amendment) (Dual Citizenship) Bill) is an enabling legislation for the citizenship bill. It is a Bill to pave the way for the passing of the citizenship bill.

Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee, Hon. Matthew Wale said they have no problem with government’s decision to withdraw both bills as they can be reintroduced.
Deputy Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare explained that the Procedures on dealing with a bill is outlined in Standing Orders 43 to 60.

But when a bill is introduce into the system of parliament to the stage where it is now ready to be moved for second reading, the only provisions here for not to deal with it is under Standing Order 59: withdrawal of Bills.
The Bills will have to come through the normal processes again when they are ready to be reintroduce to Parliament.

ENDS///

TUESDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 2018

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will hold a one day hearing into the Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018 on Wednesday 21st February 2018.

The primary reason of the Bill is to amend the Constitution in relation to electoral matters.

The objects and reasons of the Bill are to provide an additional requirement that a candidate for election be a registered elector and to allow an Act to prescribe the term “ordinarily resident”; furthermore, to provide for a 12 month stand down period for a member of the Electoral Commission or staff to involved in the election process if he or she intends to stand as a candidate.

The Bill also caters for the increase of membership of the Electoral Commission to 5 members who will also deal with registration of political parties currently undertaken by the Political Parties Commission under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.

It also aimed to establish a new position of Commissioner of Elections as the administrative head of the office responsible for elections and will also act as the Registrar for Political Parties under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.

Stakeholders or witnesses who are expected to appear before the Bills and Legislation Committee include: the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC), Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs, Legal Draftsperson, Political Parties Commission, Representatives of registered Political Parties, Transparency Solomon Islands, National Council of Women (NCW) and Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

The hearing is scheduled to start at 9:30am on Wednesday 21st February 2018.
Meanwhile, there are eight bills that are still before the House to consider. These include seven outstanding Bills from 2016 and 2017:

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

One new one, The Constitution (Amendment) (Electoral Reform) Bill 2018, for 2018.

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

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.

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