BLC insists for ‘outside’ review of new Bill

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Solomon Islands National Parliament
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

THE Bills and Legislative Committee wants to see the Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill 2021 reviewed outside of Parliament.

This was despite Clerk to Parliament David Kusilifu making the first reading of the Bill on Monday this week.

Chaiman of BLC, John Maneniaru said the Bill needs to be reviewed to take into account the reality on the ground.

He said this after the Committee found out the Bill did not reflect the policy intention of the government, when officials of Ministry of Communication and Aviation and legal draft person in Attorney General Chambers appeared before them on Tuesday.

“For example, this Bill only covers new sim registration. What about the current sim registration holders?” he asked.

Maneiaru said the host Ministry agreed to make amendments before bringing it back to the Committee to complete the hearing process.

However, he said because it is a government policy, Cabinet will make the final decision on the Bill.

According to insiders in Parliament, if the Bill has not been read the first time yet, the Minister in charge of the Bill can communicate his or her intention to the Clerk to withdraw the bill, and that would suffice.

“However, since the Bill has been read the first time already, the legislative process has already kicked-in so to say and it’s a House matter now as opposed to an Executive matter.

“This means that the Minister in-charge of the Bill may have to withdraw the Bill on the floor of Parliament,” insiders said.

“There has been numerous occasions in which Standing Order 59 was interpreted that way, and it has become the practice of this House as such.

“It may seem to be that BLC would have to continue and complete its inquiry into the Bill and make necessary recommendations where it sees fit. Alternatively, amendments can be introduced during the Committee Stage,” insiders said.

However, Chairman of BLC, Maneniaru said the Committee has the power to make recommendations on the bill for amendments.

He said the bill cannot continue in Parliament if it has not completed the hearing process with BLC.

The Bill aims to amend the Telecommunication Act 2009 to ensure that all SIM cards are registered.

It establishes the minimum age for purchasing Sim-cards at 15 and requires person to provide valid ID when purchasing the SIM-cards from the service providers or their agents.

The service providers and the agents will be responsible for establishing an electronic registry for recording accurate information to identify the purchasers.


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