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National Parliament of Solomon Islands

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

WEDNESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY 2017

An Act to provide for the welfare and protection of children was passed by Parliament on Monday the 20th of February 2016.

The Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 proposes to provide for the welfare and protection of Children by mandating the Social Welfare Division to better develop and coordinate services that would in the long run strengthen families and protecting children.

As stated in its objectives, the Bill also further authorizes the courts to make care and protection orders in serious cases of abuses and neglects of children.

When winding up the debate in reply, the Minister for Health and Medical Services and MP for Rennell and Bellona Hon. Dr Tautai Angikimua said the Bill seeks to protect and develop the interests and rights of our children regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or cultural background.

“This Bill will ensure that the children’s rights are acknowledged and promoted so that they grow into responsible citizens” He told Parliament.

Minister Angikimua said that a legal mechanism for protecting children from all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation is provided in the Bill to advance compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Health Minister further explained that the Bill also promotes community peace and harmony of family and sense of belonging, best interest of children and customary law.

“These are the principles and values underpinning the spirit and purpose of the Bill. And this is critical to children’s overall welfare”

Minister Angikimua added that traditional emphasis on the importance of harmony and community stability is the fundamental principle for the Bill and the system it will establish.

He said the Bill also acknowledges the Solomon Island’s traditional context in terms of its support for children’s welfare, development and protection and it does not replace our positive customary practices of child protection.

The Health Minister told Parliament that his Ministry together with the Ministry of women, youth, children and family affairs that co-sponsored the Bill, have already develop a long term implementation framework to ensure the Bill is effective.

Generally the Bills and Legislation Committee and other MPs who have debated the Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 supported the Bill.

The Bill is passed with no amendments.

MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY 2017

Parliament has passed the Land Surveyors Bill 2016 on Wednesday the 15th of February 2017.

It is an Act to regulate the practice of land surveying, and for related purposes.

When winding up the debate on the Bill, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey Hon. Moses Garu stressed the need to overhaul the very old Land Surveyors Act that was introduced in 1915.

“Sir, the current Act is more than 100 years old and is badly in need of updating and so Mr. Speaker in its current form it does not reflect the needs of modern day survey practice”

Minister Garu told Parliament that the powers of the Surveyors’ Board be extended as the Bill proposes to empower the Board to consider and determine applications for registration or registering a surveyor.

He said the Board will comprise the Surveyor General and other registered land surveyors and it is only appropriate that the power to register land surveyors with professional surveyors who know their business.

Hon. Garu added that the Bill proposes the establishment of an Association of Surveyors with its own council that is of a similar manner to the Association of Valuers and its Council.

The Lands Minister reiterated that the Council will have the power to issue practicing licenses which would be needed in addition to registration before any person can practice surveying in the country.

Minister Garu said a process is proposed to allow any person aggrieved by a decision made by the Board or Council to appeal that decision.

“Under this Bill Sir, the Minister may make regulations to set further details relating to procedures, fees and other matters but the power to approve practice directions or rules are appropriately transferred to the Surveyor General” Hon. Garu added.

Minister Garu assured the House that he had taken note of the recommendations made in the Bills and Legislation Committee report.

Members of Parliament who spoke on this Land Surveyors Bill 2016 supported the Bill. It went through the Committee of the Whole House without amendments and passed in third reading.

The details of the Bill can be seen in the explanatory Memorandum to the Bill on this Parliament website.

The Act will become Law and be effective after it is being gazette.

FRIDAY 17TH FEBRUARY 2017

Parliament has passed the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Monday the 13th of February 2017.

It is an Act to amend the existing Town and Country Planning Act (CAP.154) which was passed shortly after independence in 1978.

As was stated in its objects and reasons, despite minor amendments since that time, it has not kept up pace with modern day planning practices thus the bill seeks to make various reforms, including changing the title of the Act to the more relevant terminology of Planning and Development.

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey and Member of Parliament for West Guadalcanal Hon. Moses Garu when winding up the debate of this bill said the Act is out of date and badly in need of overhaul.

Hon. Garu further added that changes proposed in the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 will clearly control development activities in our towns and urban centres. He said his Ministry believes the various planning and development boards that the Bill proposed will see positive changes to new development of registered lands in the country.

“Furthermore Sir, I believe this Bill is geared towards seeing much more coordinated, orderly and well planned development in the next 20 to 30 years throughout our urban towns”

The Lands Minister told Parliament although it is totally impossible to change the face of Honiara at this present time, his ministry will ensure to turn things around and quickly comply with the new regulations and standards.

“So Sir, I see the timing of this Bill as critically very relevant”
Minister Garu believed the passage of the Bill will improve Honiara and the urban service and development centres throughout Solomon Islands to slowly transform into a better planned and orderly place in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) and Member of Parliament for North West Choiseul, Hon Connelly Sandakabatu says the seven recommendations that his Committee came up with in their report will surely assist the Government in bettering the existing Act.

MPs who spoke on the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016 supported the Bill despite sharing their doubts on achieving the expected outcomes.

The Bill went through the Committee of the Whole House without amendments and passed in third reading.

The details of the proposed amendments can be seen in the explanatory Memorandum to the Bill on this Parliament website as well.

The Act will become Law and be effective after it is being gazette.

FRIDAY 27TH JANUARY 2017

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee successfully concluded hearings on the Wild Life Protection (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Ombudsman Bill 2016 on Tuesday the 24th of January 2017.

A total of five (5) key groups of stakeholders from government and NGOs appeared before the Committee for the Wild Life Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The Ombudsman Bill 2016 gathered a total of six (6) government divisions, The whilst civil society groups such as the Transparency Solomon Islands and Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) promised to provide written submissions.

The Wild Life Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Wild life Protection and Management Act 1998 to enable Solomon Islands to fully implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild Fauna and Flora.

Solomon Islands has been a party to CITES since 2007; however, the current Act only regulates trade in domestic species, thus it appears to only regulate particularly the export of domestic species whereas CITES requires Solomon Islands to also regulate the import of species that are not native to Solomon Islands.

Also, the requirements for permitting the import and export of species as outlined in CITES, are not enshrined in the current Act.

It is expected that amendments to the Act will ensure Solomon Islands is fully compliant with obligations under the CITES.

Meanwhile as for the, The Ombudsman Bill 2016, it seeks to strengthen the office and powers of the Ombudsman.

The objects of the Bill are:

  1. To repeal and replace the current Ombudsman ( further provisions) Act (Cap.88) to give effect to the Constitutional independence and mandate of the office of the Ombudsman in an improved manner;
  2. To ensure there is continuity in the functions of the Ombudsman even in cases where the position of the Ombudsman is vacant;
  3. To ensure there is more responsiveness on the part of prescribed persons and bodies in relation to implementing the recommendations of the Ombudsman;
  4. To provide more transparency, accountability and protection from arbitrary and unfair decisions by prescribed persons or bodies against citizens and residents of Solomon Islands.

These two Bills together with the other eight Bills already heard by the Committee will go before the upcoming meeting for debate.

Parliament will resume on Monday 6th February after it was adjourned on Friday the 16th December 2016.

WEDNESDAY 18TH JANUARY 2017

Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology and his staff and the Legal Drafts woman, AG Chamber before the BLC on Wednesday 18th January 2017 on the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 .
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology and his staff and the Legal Drafts woman, AG Chamber before the BLC on Wednesday 18th January 2017 on the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016.

The 5th meeting of this 10th Parliament will resume on Monday 6th Feb 2017 after it was adjourned on Friday 16th December 2016; however, the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will commence its hearings into two Bills that have come before Parliament as of today, Wednesday 18th January 2017.

The two Bills are:

  1. Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016; and the
  2. Ombudsman Bill 2016.

The Bills reports are expected to be tabled in Parliament at its resumption on Feb 6th, 2017.
Meanwhile a total of eight Bills were already considered by the BLC.

They are:

  1. Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016,
  2. the Land Surveyors Bill 2016,
  3. the Adoption (Amendment) Bill 2016,
  4. Pacific Games 2023 Bill 2016,
  5. Child and Family Welfare Bill 2016 and
  6. The Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016.
  7. Anti-Corruption Bill 2016
  8. Whistle Blowers Bill 2016

Parliament expects to debate the Bills in this meeting.

TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016

Speaker of the national Parliament of SI, Mr. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu.
Speaker of the national Parliament of SI, Mr. Ajilon Jasper Nasiu.

The Speaker of Parliament Hon Ajilon Nasiu has again reminded all MPs that sittings must be seen to start at 9:30am each sitting day requiring punctuality on Parliament's part.

He said this when Parliament resumed on Monday 5th December 2016.

“Honourable Members, according to the Business Paper, there is a lot of business currently before the House. There is a total of 72 Questions on Notice, 11 Bills tabled, including the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016, and two motions"

Hon. Nasiu told Parliament that "It is always in the best interest of Parliament House that businesses before it are dispatched as soon as practicably possible.

The Speaker strongly announced this in Parliament since there is a lot of government business and questions that is currently before the House to consider.

However, as set down in today’s Order Paper, the Second Reading of the 2017 appropriation Bill 2016 was moved by the Hon. Finance Minister Snider Rini in accordance with the practices of the Honorable House.

That is to say that when a motion for the Second Reading of an Appropriation Bill is moved, proceedings on the Appropriation Bill take precedence over any other motion or Bill.

The Speaker has therefore proceed with the second reading as such is the importance of appropriating funds to supply proposed budget heads that it warrants Parliament to expediently dispose-off relevant matters according to prescribed rules.

On that note, the Speaker Hon. Nasiu again reminded Parliament members on the issue of Quorum or non-attendance and told them to seriously prioritize the businesses of Parliament.

He said this has the effect of dragging the businesses of Parliament thus unnecessarily prolonging meetings.

Hon Nasiu said he will ensure that available procedural tools are not used to unnecessarily curtail the proceedings of Parliament and he is prepared to make necessary rulings to that effect.

Debate on the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 is due to commence soon on the coming sitting days.

TUESDAY 6TH DECEMBER 2016

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

Minister of Finance and Treasury, Hon Snyder Rini announced this when
introducing the 2017 budget in Parliament yesterday.

He said, “Sir the Budget that I present today will deliver a record $4.1 billion in spending to social services, rural infrastructure, rural development activities and key programs to provide both quality and coverage of public investments to our people.”

He said it will enable ministries to maintain essential services for our people and lay foundations for future growth for the nation.

Hon. Rini informed the House of where Government will source revenue to fund this budget, which is a combination of domestic revenue, external budget support and cash reserves that successive Governments have built up over recent years.

With these revenue sources, he assures that the 2017 budget is in a fiscally sound position.

Hon. Rini continue to say that total revenue for 2017 is expected to hit $3,909.2 million, where total domestically sourced revenue is expected to be at $3,555.3 million, an increase of $577.3 million ( or 19.6 per cent) over the 2016 Revised Budget Estimate.

Domestic revenue is expected to be sourced from the following:

  • Inland revenue - $1,990 million
  • Customs - $997.5 million
  • Other Ministries - $567.8 million

The Government expects an estimated donor support of $283 million, including $80 million in general support from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

On the expenditure side, the Government is budgeting to spend $4,087.6 million. This is made up of $2,906.8 million for recurrent expenditure and $1,180 million for development expenditure.

Of the recurrent expenditure of $2,906.8 million, $2,622.9 million will be on recurrent operations of which Payroll will be $1,028.5 million. Other charges $1,594.3 million and donor budget support for recurrent operations $283.9 million.

He further added that Government also plans to spend $1,180.8 million in major strategic investments, which comprises of $1,110.8 million from domestic sources and $70.0 million from donor development assistance, principally the Republic of China.

91 percent of the recurrent and development budget expenditures are funded by domestic sources, while 9 percent from the donor community.

Hon. Rini said, to enable the Government to continue provide services and undertake productive infrastructure projects that are not provided for in the primary allocations, there are provisions in the Appropriation Bill that the Government may utilize.

He finally added that the 2017 budget provides for $85 million recurrent and for development contingency warrants. Expenditures for which are at this time unforeseen and are not factored in the budget.

It also set a borrowing limit of $900 million and an advance warrant limit of $200 million.

The Finance Minister reminded the House on the use of Contingency Warrants, that these are for unbudgeted or unforeseen expenditures, such as national emergencies and disasters, but also for ensuring we have fiscal buffers.

“Such funds, Sir, maintain the continued and unhindered implementation of services, whilst accommodating for sudden ‘one off’ or ‘off budget’ requirements. This is consistent with the purpose set out in the Constitution,” he explained.

In executing and managing the 2017 Budget, the Finance Minister lists several measures that Government will implement in 2017 to strengthen the alignment of government’s priorities to the allocation of our scarce resources through the budget to maintain its credibility.

Unlike 2015 and 2016 Budgets, the level Government cash reserves required to balance the 2017 Budget will be reduced significantly to $178.4 million. This demonstrates not only Government’s commitment to refocus expenditure to key infrastructure and priority spending but also shows Government’s intention to maintain and rebuild its cash reserves at a sustainable level.

  1. Ministry of Finance is in the process of formulating a whole set of regulations under the Public Finance Management Act for the purpose of clarifying sections of the Act to make it easier for Ministries to formulate and execute their budgets in line with the Act. The first regulation is called, The Public Finance Management (internal Audit) Regulation has been completed and enforced since 5 August 2016.
  2. The Public Finance Management (Procurement) Regulation is currently being drafted and other regulations such as the Debt Management Regulations, Cash Management Regulation, Budget and Fiscal Responsibility Regulations will follow thereafter. These regulations, when implemented effectively, will help improve the management of public resources and the efficiency of execution of budgets so that we continue to improve the performance of our budgets and service delivery to our people.

    To support the implementation of these regulations, Hon, Rini said committees of senior officials must be established and be institutionalized within the regulations.
    He said an audit committee has been set up under the auspices of the Public Finance Management (internal Audit) Regulation.

  3. The Budget Strategic Committee (BSC) and Budget Coordination Committees (BCC) that were established in 2016 will also be finalized.

Hon Rini told Parliament that our Budget is only as good if they are implemented.

The Finance Minister announced that the 2017 Budget is the first step in delivering the National Strategic Goals, which will be finalized by the end of this year.

The 20 years National Development Strategy (NDS) – 2016 - 2035 has been approved and launched in April 2016. It presents the overall vision and long term development objective that aims to improve social and economic livelihoods of all Solomon Islanders, through a return to economic growth by delivering on the following objectives:

  • Sustained and inclusive economic growth
  • Poverty alleviated across the whole of the Solomon Islands, basic needs addressed and food security improved; benefits of development more equitably distributed
  • All Solomon Islanders have access to quality health and education
  • Resilient and environmentally sustainable development with effective disaster risk management, response and recovery
  • Unified nation with stable and effective governance and public order

Hon. Rini said the 2017 Budget focuses on these areas, but new projects take time to design and effectively implement. So over the next 2-3 years, greater focus will be given to developing and implementing projects that provide infrastructure in rural areas and which help create the environment for sustained economic growth.

To this end, he said his Ministry and the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC) will ensure that all programmes and projects that are included in the Budget, going forward, must be ready for implementation and properly costed so that they are completed successfully on time within Budget.

He concluded that MDPAC and his Ministry are working with all ministries to improve proper budget planning and prioritization and compliance with budget instructions for both formulation and execution.

Meanwhile, the 2017 budget is drop by $0.1 Billion compared to the 2016 budget which was $4.2 billion.

THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER 2016

Parliament meeting is further adjourned to Monday 5th December 2016 to give time for the public Accounts Committee to scrutinize the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016.

Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga moved the motion of special adjournment.

He said that’s the only reason for this adjournment.

Leader of Opposition, Hon. Jeremiah Manele thanked the Acting Prime Minister for moving the motion.

He said it is important for the sake of transparency and accountability that the committee takes the opportunity to scrutinize all the budgets for all the Ministries.

He also thanked the Minister of Finance for availing budget documents which are now before the Committee.

The leader, however, encourage all ministers to remind their Permanent Secretaries and Financial Controllers to turn up on time as scheduled so that PAC do not have any further delays in the inquiries.

Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Rick Hou also thanked and acknowledge the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for considering the Committee’s letter of request to government to give more time for these inquiries.

He said the time given for PAC to do its work is adequate and PAC has begun inquiries on Monday the 21st.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016 goes through the first reading today. The other bill that also goes through first reading is the, ‘Ombudsman Bill 2016.’

Parliament’s adjournment to Monday 5th Dec 2016 is the third adjournment in a row for this particular meeting.

MONDAY 21ST NOVEMBER 2016

pac
Public Accounts Committee

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee will begin public hearings into 2017 Budget on Monday, beginning with the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands, The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and then the Ministry of Finance and Treasury on Day One.

Under Parliamentary Standing Orders, the Public Accounts Committee reviews the Budget on behalf of the Parliament, and reports back on issues and challenges that it finds.

This year, every Ministry will appear before the Committee over the coming 10 days.
Part of the process will be to understand key economic indicators for the Solomon Islands, including why growth is expected to be 3.25% in 2017, why 3% inflation, why nominal GDP has fallen to 5.6%, why Government is looking at record revenue collections of $3.5 billion, why a deficit budget of $179 million is proposed, and why a continued freeze on public sector staffing applies.

The Committee is expected to report to Parliament before the end of the month, and will be meeting daily until the task is complete.

ENDS///

FRIDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 2016

Parliament at its resumption on Monday 14th November 2016 is again adjourned to Tuesday 22nd November 2016.

Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare moved the motion of special adjournment based on the following reasons;

  • To give ample time for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to do its oversight role in scrutinizing the 2017 Appropriation Bill 2016.
  • A number of questions that were put on notice by the opposition for the government to answer were still pending thus the PM is urging the opposition to raise them again in order for the government to have time to provide explanations.
  • To allow the Bills Committee to complete their other tasks as well as inquiry on other upcoming bills that are brought before them.

This was the second time the Prime Minister had moved a motion of special adjournment since the final meeting resumed. The first adjournment was on Tuesday the 1st of November where it was adjourned to Monday 14th November.

The first special adjournment was for similar reasons. That is to allow the Bills and Legislation Committee to conduct its hearings into the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Land Surveyors Bill 2016, the Adoption Bill 2016, Pacific games 2023 Bill 2016, Child and family welfare Bill 2016 and the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Bill 2016.

It is understood that the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Bill 2016 was read the first time on the floor of Parliament and is also awaiting scrutiny process by the Bills and Legislation Committee.

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