PAC hearings into Appropriation Bill 2018 start today

DPM Douglas Ete
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By Gary Hatigeva

THE National Parliament has yesterday confirmed that hearings with all government ministries and institutes into the 2018 Appropriation Bill will start today.

The hearings will begin with presentations and witnesses from the Commercial and Banking institutions, which includes the Central Bank of Solomon Islands, the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

National Parliament’s Media Unit in a statement further confirmed that the much awaited Bill was tabled in Parliament on Monday, March 12, 2018.

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete with relief commended the government for fulfilling its responsibility however, cautioned them on the time required for the Committee to diligently scrutinize the budget.

In its statement, the Media Unit said the PAC Chairman pointed out that the budget is quite a significant one, as it is the last budget before the House dissolves.

“Given that the budget documents were brought in parts through last week and over the weekend, the Chairman emphasizes that his members ought to be briefed properly before seeing all the line ministries and their subsidiaries,” the statement adds.

The PAC Chairman then reiterated that this is a necessary part of the oversight process, as the Committee is obliged to table and inform Parliament on its findings and recommendations.

He therefore suggested that his Committee be accorded ample time of at least two weeks to fulfil their Constitutional and Legislative duty.

The Committee has written to the Prime Minister to further adjourn Parliament, when it resumes on March 19.

Meanwhile, when contacted yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) confirmed receiving the notice, which seeks an additional adjournment to parliament sitting, but says the Prime Minister has yet to put any official respond to the request.

Today’s hearing is scheduled to start at 2pm this afternoon while 2 ministries are lined up for tomorrow’s session, which starts at 9am with the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, followed by the Ministry of Provincial Government & Institutional Strengthening.

Later in the afternoon, the hearing is expected to receive presentations from local Provincial Assemblies, which will include Western, Malaita, Central and Guadalcanal Provinces.

The PAC during the hearings will receive assistances from seven international representatives and officials within various parliaments in Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, who will also provide support on the overall reviewing of the national budget.