THE Bills and Legislation Committee has concluded its hearings into the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority Bill 2018 on Wednesday.
The Bill has 92 clauses and is an Act to establish the Solomon Islands Maritime Authority and other related purposes.
Its intended purpose is to complete the progression of change at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development from the former Marine Division, operating ships on behalf of the Government (former government fleet) as owners, to monitoring and controlling the registered private sector fleet as regulators (the Maritime Authority, or SIMA).
This final organisational progression will ensure the administration has sufficient resources, flexibility of staff and volume of assets to be able to fulfill its mandate to enforce compliance with the shipping Act 1998 and associated national maritime legislation.
The Bill will also enable the new maritime authority to monitor commercial aspects of shipping and engage more with the international shipping community.
Solomon Islands Maritime Authority or SIMA’s objective, created by the Bill, is to monitor domestic shipping to improve the safety and comfort of passengers; develop a marine environmental protection section to minimise, mitigate and prosecute marine pollution incidents, especially by foreign-owned ships; and to advise on improvement of energy and economic efficiency of shipping services, especially to the provinces.
Fulfillment of the obligations of the maritime conventions to which Solomon Islands has acceded, and future accession to more recent international maritime conventions, together with greater involvement in the international shipping community, will help to ensure control in the escalation of freight rates to and from Solomon Islands (currently escalating at one of the highest percentage annual increase rates in the world).
Appearing before the Committee during the course of the inquiry were officials from the sponsored Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
Although the Director of SIMSA, Captain Tim Harris was overseas for medical attention, the committee was fortunate to have contact with him via tele-conferencing, in which he presented comprehensive perceptions surrounding policy matters of the Bill.
BLC will make a written report to Parliament containing the observations and recommendations arising from its deliberations soon.