Strata Bill passes second reading, now goes to Committee of the Whole House

By Gary Hatigeva

FOLLOWING thorough debates on its general principles with strong support for it, the Strata Titles Bill 2017 has gone through its second reading in parliament yesterday, and is now set to go down for scrutiny of the Committee of the Whole House today.

The principle reason for the over 150 paged document, with a total of 171 Clauses, the Bill according to the government, is to address the issue of affordability in residential accommodation within Honiara city and other urban areas throughout the country.

It aims to make possible for higher density developments in countries to protect the interests of the people who bought units from what is known under the concept, as a strata building.

The bill introduces a strata title scheme similar to what is practised in Australia, Vanuatu and other Asian countries.

The scheme according to records, will divide building plots of land into what is also known under the strata concept as, Strata Lots and Common Property ownership.

Meanwhile, during the debate segment of the Bill, Members shared worries and fears over its impact, which many thought would just enable the rich to become richer while the majority, including local Solomon Islanders will just become spectators from the side.

Apart from the Bills and Legislation Committee’s recommendations, members have also made recommendations on what they thought is needed to strengthen it.

Others suggested additional designs, which they also think better suit Solomon’s context where they say can be more applicable to the rural settings of the country.

Members from the Opposition and Independent groups have also suggested for the responsible minister to consider making the simpler as it is too technical, and shared that even some responsible officials who will be implementing it, are left in total darkness due to its complexity.

The bill is now committed to the committee of the whole house since debates on it was completed yesterday, and in winding down debates on the bill yesterday evening, the responsible Minister for the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey, Andrew Manepora assured MPs on both sides of the house that their concerns are being noted for review.

In a brief summary respond to all the contributing debates, Minister Maneproa added that the government through his ministry have also noted and agreed to a lot of the recommendations made on the bill, which he assured and confirmed that his ministry will look into them.

Parliament resumes at 9.30am this morning, and it is expected to start its scrutiny into the Strata Titles Bill 2017.

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