Finance Minister less powerful in DBSI welcoming news

By Gary Hatigeva

AMENDMENTS made to reduce powers bestowed on the Minister of Finance and Treasury over the operations of the re-establishment of the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI) was highly welcomed as its Act made it through Parliament yesterday.

During its consultation and inquiry stage, the DBSI Bill 2018 received strong opposition from those responsible. After scrutiny, with suggestions that the initial bill has seemingly given too much power to the Minister on the level of decision making and related functions over Development Bank’s operations.

This was also a matter the Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) Matthew Wale, had continuously highlighted in his remarks during the Committee’s inquiry into the Bill.

With these concerns, the Committee in its report on the Bill, made around 15 recommendations, some of which were for amendments on sections within the Act that are said to have given direct powers to the Minister.

Members from both the Opposition and Independent benches when contributing to the debate session of the Bill, pointed out that such as highlighted in the recommendations, are some of the reasons why the former bank collapsed.

Many suggested that past intentions to include Ministers or Politicians in the institute’s core operation had resulted in bad influences and also lead to controversial decisions.

Meanwhile, in its recognition over the raised concerns and doubts, the government in its final Bill acknowledged the recommendations made by the BLC and agreed to amend various sections within the now DBSI Act 2018.

This includes the appointment of office holders, procedures and compliance matters.

The others includes Clause 36, which was amended, highlighting the need for the Minister to make approvals on terms and conditions, to be consistent with the requirements for government borrowing under the Public Financial Management Act 2013.

Other Clauses that give direct references to the Minister were also amended through the deleting paragraphs, but the others outlined that the Minister must table a copy of the statement and reports at the next sitting of Parliament after receiving it.

The Minister on the other hand, is given directives to ensure he maintains consultations with relevant institutes, which includes the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, for the purpose of auditing on the Bank’s accounts.

Clause 42 was completely deleted also at the Committee of the Whole House.

Sogavare had earlier revealed and assured that work on the initial establishment of the bank will start straight after the Bill’s passage, with projections for its full establishment activities to take place in the first quarter of 2019.

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