Businesses say no to extending life of parliament


Many business houses who are members of Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry have opposed Government’s move to extend Parliament from 4 to 5 years.

It was reported Cabinet had agreed to extend this Parliament until 2024 due to Pacific Games in Honiara next year which would clash with the National General Elections.

In a survey conducted online with 61 members of SICCI between January 13 and February 15, it shows that 73% of participants strongly disagree with the current proposed extension of parliament.

About 13% somewhat agree, 6% neither agree nor disagree, 4% strongly agree and 2% somewhat agree.

Furthermore, the report indicates that majority of participants first heard about the proposed extension of parliament through Social Media (49%) Print Media (23%), Word of mouth (19%), Radio (4%) and other (4%).

In addition, 37% of participants describe the level of impact the proposed extension will have on business as somewhat negative.

About 32% described it as neither positive nor negative, 23% said will have extremely negative impacts while 4% said it would have somewhat positive impact and 2% extremely positive.

Moreover, the survey shows a high number of participants (45%) indicated that there is insufficient information and resources to justify an extension of the parliament.

It indicates that majority definitely does not have sufficient information and resource for justification of extension of parliament.

About 13% said probably not, 9% say they might or might not have enough information while 2% stated probably yes.

Further to that, it indicates that 83% of participants have not consulted with MP or local representative regarding the proposed extension of the life of parliament, while 17% have consulted

The survey states that:

  1. This is a significant constitutional amendment to make. As such Parliament need to either take this to the election or do a referendum so people can decide.
  2. Extended life of parliament will not lead to more effective government but likely the opposite where parliamentary incumbents will be less accountable as have more time to rout the system without being accountable at a ballot box.
  3. The pandemic threat does not justify delaying the democratic process. People will lose faith in democracy and chance for more social unrest It will create more instability to the already fragile political situation
  4. There is great need for Electoral Reform before such can be justified.
  5. There is absolutely no compelling reason/s for the proposed extension. There is no justifiable reason for the proposed extension. The government could easily organize the elections to occur in June or earlier in2023 and have a government set up well in time for the games.
  6. Government should specifically inform the public the merits of extension of parliament from 4 years to 5 years.
  7. The extension of power will generate ineffectiveness of the Cabinet and Ministers Extending the life of parliament and changing the constitution is not morally and financially justifiable for a 2 weeks regional sports event! An additional risk for this is the high chance of social unrest if some people see this as a power grab. SIG needs to clarify and explain to the people why it is being extended.

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) is the peak representative organization for the private sector in Solomon Islands.

SICCI currently has over 170 members as well asa number of affiliations to other national private sector organizations, covering approximately 80 percentof the Solomon Islands private sector workforce. Sixty (70) percent of the SICCI membership is made up of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) employing less than 20 employees.

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