BY JARED KOLI
Names of 80 candidates who contested the past national elections have been submitted to the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIPF) – National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) for failure to comply with provisions of the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018.
This is according to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and Commissioner, Mrs Jane Waetara in an exclusive interview with Island Sun yesterday.
Waetara said from the 330 candidates who contested the 2019 National General Election, 250 filed their financial statement of account to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC), 75 failed to submit their financial statements and five submitted after the deadline of 90 days.
Waetara said 13 of the 14 candidates who contested the November 2020 By-election for Central Honiara and Northeast Guadalcanal constituency complied with the provision while one failed.
Section 69 of the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018 states that candidates contesting a National General Election must provide their campaign expenses to the Commission.
Subsection (1) states: “Within 90 days after the publication of an election result under section 107, a candidate in the election must submit to the CEO a statement of account specifying:
“(a) all expenses incurred by the candidate in relation to the candidate’s campaign for election; and
“(b) the source of all funds (including the amount received from each source) used to meet those expenses.
Subsection (2) states: “The regulations may make provision for the preparation and content of the statement of account.”
Waetara said the failure of candidates to submit their campaign expenses reflects a non-compliance of the particular provision of the Act.
“The penalty of the non-submission is $20,000 and two-years’ imprisonment or both, for those late submission after the 90 days has lapsed, a $100 will be charged per each day the offence continues.
“My office administers the provisions of the Electoral Act, and it is the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force that deal with the Electoral offences. It is them that will investigate and lay charges on candidates that commit the electoral offence.
“We have already provided the list and documentation of the candidates to them,” the electoral chief said.
Waetara said the list of candidates was submitted to the Police around 90 days after the 2019 National General election as well as the November 2020 By-elections, but have since then did not hear any feedback from the police.
“So far, we did not receive any feedback of the list of candidates that were not comply with the Act that was submitted to the police.
“As such, we did not aware as to how many candidates that have been charged and those that did not charged,” she said when asked.
Waetara said as soon as the winner in the election is declared, candidates are obliged under the Act to submit their financial expenses during the election.
“Whether the candidates win or loses, they must comply because the obligation is stated under the Act and they must send in their statement to the SIEC.”
She said SIEC always remind candidates through the media and even go to the extent to call the candidates in the period of 90 days after an election.
She strongly reminded candidates that contest the South Choiseul By-election this year to adhere to the provision of this Act and submit their campaign expenses in time.
The final date for the filing of these expense account is September 15, 2021.