By Gary Hatigeva
THE Bills and Legislations Committee (BLC) has on Wednesday started its hearings into the much talked about but anticipated Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill 2018.
Appearing first before the Committee to present the Bill was the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation, accompanied by his Under Secretaries and other senior ministry officials.
In his presentation, the Permanent Secretary gave an overall background on the Bill, where he outlined its policy related aspects, which he revealed to be one of the current government’s key policy intent.
The Permanent Secretary shared that the intention was to empower and recognise the chiefs and traditional leaders of the country, who on a day to day basis, faced with the challenges of the economic and social pressure, thus, giving them the opportunity to be part of such decision making.
At the same time intended to establish an institution that will properly govern the Traditional Governance System.
The bill in itself looks to provide a framework for the institutionalisation, management and regulation of traditional governance system.
It also looks to provide a framework for the promotion and preservation of traditional norms, protocols, values and practices, and aims to empower and allow for tribal chiefs and traditional leaders to participate in decision making on social and economic matters affecting customary rights.
This bill, according to the Permanent Secretary, is also seen as a historical development for a system that has always been there, but not been properly given the right regulatory and legal mandates.
If enacted by the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, the bill will make changes to the provincial government Act 1997, and other related matters that capture the traditional governance system.
Unlike other bills that went before parliament, this Bill however, proposes to establish a Ministry of its own that will develop and implement policies relevant to improving the system provided for under this Act.
The new ministry will also facilitate institutional reforms across the government for the purpose of achieving its objectives if it becomes an Act.
It will also collaborate with the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, to assist provincial governments to make ordinances based on their respective jurisdictions.
With the Traditional Governance and Custom Facilitation Bill 2018, the Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG), first had it introduced on the floor of Parliament for its first and second readings, and later brought before the Bills and Legislation Committee for scrutiny.
A lot of concerns were raised by the Bills and Legislation Committee regarding the Bill, but there is high anticipation for it to be brought back on the floor of parliament for its deliberation by both the Upper House and the Committee of the Whole House.
Also accompanying the delegation was the Government’s Traditional Governance Advisor from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peter Boyers, who gave most of the insights aspects to the Bill during the hearing.
Hearings continue today with those from theCivil lSocietyOrganisations and other institutional representatives, which includes the National Council of Womenl, Transparency SolomonIslands, House of Chiefs Representatives, Courts represtatives, and the Gaena’alu Movement.