BLC to start inquiry into payment system bill

By Gary Hatigeva

THE Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) is set to begin its inquiry into the government’s proposed payment system bill today, with hopes to receive a good turnout from those involved in its compilation.

On Monday, the Committee adjourned its hearing into the bill, which proposes the re-establishment of the former Development Bank of Solomon Islands, due to non-attendance by officials from the Ministry responsible, and the BLC is emphasising for those involved to make themselves available.

Submitted as the ‘Payment System Bill 2018’, the proposal looks to provide a legal framework that intends to introduce an electronic payment system in Solomon Islands.

The Bill looks to improve the safety and efficiency of payment processes, with high anticipation for it to reduce systematic risks and delays in the current existing manual processing of settlement systems, while at the same time, speed up the availability of funds for beneficiaries of payments.

The bill according to officials, is also expected to have positive impact on the efficiency of trade and activity in the country’s economy.

Objectively, the bill pointed out that although it is expected for a continued need to have manual clearing given the high use of cheques in the financial system, it (bill) provides the ability to prepare for the electronic payment system.

Currently, the country is using a manual payment system for transferring, clearing, and settlement of funds or securities, but the government is hoping that by introducing an electronic payment system will allow intermediaries to communicate with each other and electronically transferring amount when paying for goods and services.

“In Solomon Islands, there is no payment system in place to facilitate electronic funds transfers between banks or between customers of different banks.

“Instead, all these payments are made with cheques. The cheque clearing is totally manual,” it is said in the bill.

Apart from the other intentions, the bill also looks to provide the powers and duties of the Central Bank to regulate, license and oversee the national payment, while at the same time, given power and duties to operate payment, clearing and settlement systems.

The bill also proposes to provide the rules on the issuance of electronic money and the underlying or associated services.

The government through this bill, is looking to make amendments to the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Act 2012, repealing Part 6 that oversees the current payment system used in the country.

The Inquiry starts at 9.30 this morning and officials say the committee is hoping to use today and tomorrow to thoroughly go through the payment system bill, as a vital change to a system that has direct effect on the national economy.

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