BY JARED KOLI
Candidates that contest in any national election are obliged by the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018 to submit to the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) their Election Campaign expenditure accounts.
Chief Electoral Officer Mrs Jane Waetara said as soon as the winner in the election is declared, candidates are obliged under the Act, particularly a provision in Section 69 of the Act to submit their financial expenses during the election.
“Whether the candidates win or loses, they must comply because the obligation is stated under the Act and they must send in their statement to the SIEC,” said Waetara
In an interview this week, the electoral chief revealed that 80 candidates that contested the past national elections have been submitted to the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIPF) – National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) for failure to comply with provisions of the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018.
She said failure of candidates to submit their campaign expenses reflects a non-compliance of the particular provision of the Act.
Waetara said the list of candidates was submitted to NCID around 90 days after the 2019 National General election as well as the November 2020 By-elections, but have since then did not hear any feedback from the police.
Island Sun has sent an initial request for interview with the NCID through the RSIPF Media Unit yesterday to know as to what extent the Police are working on prosecuting candidates that breached this law.
Waetara said her office administers the provisions of the Electoral Act, and it is the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force that deal with the Electoral offences. It is them that will investigate and lay charges on candidates that commit the electoral offence.
Section 69 of the Solomon Islands Electoral Act 2018 states that candidates contesting a National General Election must provide their campaign expenses to the Commission.
Subsection (1) states: “Within 90 days after the publication of an election result under section 107, a candidate in the election must submit to the CEO a statement of account specifying:
“(a) all expenses incurred by the candidate in relation to the candidate’s campaign for election; and
“(b) the source of all funds (including the amount received from each source) used to meet those expenses.
Subsection (2) states: “The regulations may make provision for the preparation and content of the statement of account.”
Waetara said the penalty of the non-submission is $20,000 and two-years’ imprisonment or both, for those late submission after the 90 days has lapsed, a $100 will be charged per each day the offence continues.