By Gary Hatigeva
WITH all the drama and confusion in what has been seen as a potential hijack of the Anti Corruption Bill 2017 after Wednesday’s first day of deliberation on the bill, Parliament has finally concluded all debates into the proposed legislation, which is now deemed to go through the committee of the whole house before it’s put up for its third reading where it is expected to be passed thereafter.
In its second day of debates into the much talked about AC Bill, parliament witnessed a swift indication of support and interests from members of both sides of the house, who praised the Solomon Islands Democratic for Change Coalition Government (SIDCCG) for what many described as, a bold and brave move in bringing it (bill) back into parliament.
Many, especially those from the Opposition and Independent groups, have expressed a few concerns over the bill and criticised a few clauses and sections within, but mostly concluded with great support and anticipation towards it (bill).
Others have however shared mixed views on the nature of the proposed law, which they say it is targeting certain leaders who are elementally remains from the ethnic tension, which got many to further suggest that the bill is a foreign driven concept, put in place to best suit outside interests.
Some other members thought that while the bill is undeniably the way forward, a lot of questions still need answers, and that it is also important to ask, as to whether the other existing laws have been strengthened to work hand in hand with this legislation if it becomes an act.
Questions were also asked, as to whether the government structure and system ready to host the proposed law if it is enacted.
However, with all the critics and negativities, all members who debated concluded that the Anti-Corruption Bill is a cry of the people of Solomon Islands, and it is only fitting for them to support and vote for the bill to be passed and enacted.
The positive feedbacks and support have also got the two leaders of the SIDCCG relieved, especially the Prime Minister, Rick Hou who when summing up all the debates, thank all members of the house who he said showed great support and interests in seeing the bill go through.
The Prime Minister said he was really encouraged to have seen the commitment that all members have taken into the bill.
“This has also enlightened our thoughts especially when this bill is in doubt,” the relieved Prime Minister shared.
Meanwhile, Hou explained that regarding all the comments especially the contributing recommendations from members, the government will ensure they are duly noted and will be thoroughly looked at after the bill can be passed.
“I wish to acknowledge the contributions and many suggestions that have been put forward by all speakers, to improve and strengthen the bill.
“In fact the house acknowledges and recognises this country is in deep problem, economically and in terms of service delivery, largely due to the level of corruptions that all of us have spoken about and described to be in our country.
Yes, there were many good proposals some of which have been taken up in the 2017 revised version
However, some of these would require further extensive consultations which will not only be expensive to carry out now, but there is likelihood that in doing so, the bill runs the risk of not being brought to parliament anytime soon.
“I feel this is the right time to do it, as this government is determined to do it, and the 10th Parliament is determined to do it.
“So I would like to stress a point that this bill is the outcome of various consultations at various stages, within the sponsoring ministry, which is my ministry, within the government line ministries, within the political government, namely, the government caucus, and of course the Bills an Legislation committee.
“We have also taken careful note, of the public concerns as they come through the media.
“Sir, many speakers have pointed that we now have a good legislation, it may not be perfect, but on such a serious and major issue in this country, which have yet to have any legislation on, this is a legislation that we are all waiting for.
“It’s an issue that needs legislating now,” the Prime Minister suggested.
He further added that this bill is more than the first step in the right direction, because it is the right thing to do and it is the right time now.
He further pointed out that where things are at right now, are where the bill will take on to become an act, but reassured that all the recommendations and suggestions have been noted for their right time to be acted upon, as far as strengthening and vamp up the new legislation will be concerned.
Following all debates and its second reading of the bill that sees it stand committed for the scrutiny of the whole house, Parliament was adjourned to 9am this morning.
Friday is a private members business, but if granted by the chairman of the committee of the whole house, the country could get its Anti-Corruption Law today, however, if not granted, the bill could b passed by Monday or latest, Tuesday next week.