The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Bills and Legislation, John Maneniaru has rebuffed the claims by the Prime Minister’s Office that his committee has not been active in its work on scrutinising the proposed constitutional amendment to extend the life of Parliament.
In a statement today, Maneniaru who is also the MP for West Areáre said: “I reject any notions that my committee is same how to be blamed for not scrutinising the constitutional amendment to extend the life f parliament over the past month.”
He recalls that he conveyed a meeting of the BLC on the 9th of August immediately following the receipt of the constitutional amendment bill by parliament and the bill having noticed by the speaker.
“I convened a meeting of the BLC on 9th August on the planning and discussion of the inquiry into the constitutional amendment bill and again on 11th August,” said the MP for West Areáre.
He adds five meetings have already been convened by the BLC to date with three more held on August 28 (a Sunday), September 1st and 5th showing that the committee was busy planning the inquiry into the amendment.
“My committee resolved to call for submissions from the public from 17-31 August and again decided to extend the period until the end of September and we have already received submissions from the public with more expected,” he said.
Maneniaru further explained that: “I have also written five letters, including two to the Prime Minister on our plans as well as on requesting submission of reports from the MPs on their consultations in their respective constituencies.”
Furthermore, a number of BLC members are also members of the PAC which held inquiries into the supplementary appropriation bill from 17-24 August.
“The supplementary appropriation bills demand our attention to ensure that we scrutinize the bills carefully and thoroughly and it’s unrealistic to expect our members to work on two separate and important bills at the same time,” he adds.
Maneniaru also stated that: “I had also met with the Prime Minister to update him and request his support for resources for our work and I thought he was receptive of the work my committee was going to undertake.”
The Chairman of the BLC therefore rejects the claims by the PMO that the committee was perhaps lagging in its work.
“I totally reject any claims by officials in the PMO that suggests that we have not performed our mandate. The truth is that we have just begun. And with a constitutional amendment which impacts Solomon Islanders, my committee and we looking forward to conducting inquiries into the amendment and hear the views of Solomon Islanders on the proposed bill,” he said.
Maneniaru stated that it is the PMO who are now looking to bypass established Parliamentary processes that would have given the opportunity to the people to have their say on the constitutional amendment bill.
“We are not to be blamed. We are not the hijackers of parliamentary process,” he said.
Maneniaru made the explanation after the government decided to bring the bill to Parliament without going through the BLC which is the required under Parliamentary standing orders.
The first reading of the bill was today with the second reading and third expected on Thursday.