Enquiry into Traditional Governance Bill extended

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National Parliament of Solomon Islands
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By Gary Hatigeva

REQUEST for an extension of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC’s) enquiry into the Traditional Governance and Custom Facilitation Bill 2018 has been approved, but the challenge remains to be with getting people to be part of it.

Last week, the BLC started its hearing into the bill and received very little responses from members of the Civil Society groups, a few Non-Government Organisations that were scheduled to appear before the committee to share their views on what these groups described as, a controversial and complicated piece of legislation.

The extension according to the Acting Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare when revealing the approval, explained that it will allow and give an opportunity for the committee to involve more people to share their views on the TG Bill, particularly, Chiefs and Women throughout the country.

While there is the challenge of getting people within Honiara to be part of the enquiry, the Committee is also faced with the difficulty in getting people from the islands to make it to the hearing, and Chairman had also called for the government allocate additional funding to see this program fulfil before the house resumes in October.

The Committee has argued that the consultation process into the bill was not inclusive enough as the report showed that not many women were part of it and the views captured do not reflect the hundreds of chiefs in various settings and jurisdiction throughout the country.

The responsible ministry had agreed to the argument and proposed to take the bill back to the provinces, with intention to get the specific people highlighted, but the BLC suggested for those supposedly missed out to be included in the BLC hearing to cut the cost and save time

No confirmation has yet been made by the government on the request to allocated funds to help the committee fulfil its extension of the enquiry program.

Earlier, Heads of certain Civil Society Organisations disputed the consultation programmes held, which they thought were not wide enough to capture the views of men and women throughout the country.

They suggested that the consultations were done in convenience based on the government’s terms and expectations.

Meanwhile, top officials from the Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation when presenting the bill before the BLC last week, admitted to the shortfalls, but stressed that the issue of getting people to participate was a clash of timing and venues, which was something outside of their control.

According to officials, the ministry had to depend on each provincial government’s schedules, who the ministry had engaged to spearhead, which they said had turned out good.

But the BLC thought the programme had failed to identify the actual people (Chiefs) that will be implementing the legislation if it becomes an act, and suggested that they be part of the priority people, included if the request for extension was approved.

No confirmation have yet been given on the requests for additional funding to assist in getting people from the provinces to be brought over to the capital for the inquiry, but insiders say the government will want to make sure this bill is brought back to the floor for its final deliberations, and will therefore ensure that the needed funds are made available.

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