BILLS and Legislative Committee chairman, Matthew Wale, has highlighted some challenges the Anti-Corruption Bill (ACB) 2017 will encounter after its passage in Parliament.
Speaking during the second reading of the Bill in Parliament yesterday, Wale, said out of 16 recommendations made by the Committee to government, only two recommendations were taken on board.
He said recommendation 5 on unjust enrichment or illicit wealth was not accepted by the government.
“It has contended that Clause 45 adequately deals with this concern.
“However, Clause 45 is inadequate to capture this very important and significant avenue of corrupt enrichment. Clause 45 merely deals with reporting,” he said.
Furthermore, Wale said recommendation 6 was accepted by the government and the concern has been adequately covered.
“Except, in Clause 11(5) (b) (iii) it seems to have overreached in also excluding ordinary members of political parties.
“We want to encourage ordinary citizens to become members of political parties and participate in the political process,” he said.
Wale said ordinary membership of a political party must not be used against them in this manner.
“Perhaps, office bearers of political parties could be excluded,” he added.
Moreover, Wale said Clause 6 of the Bill has little value because it prohibits only the Solomon Islands Independent Commission from investigating and prosecuting conduct that occurred before commencement of the Anti-Corruption Act.
However, Wale said Clause 6 does not prohibit the Police and or the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) from investigating and prosecuting any prior corrupt conduct.
Further to that, Wale said Clause 29 purports to give financial independence to the Commission.
“However, as is the experience of the Ombudsman since the passage of similar provisions for his office – there is no real meaningful financial independence,” he added.
Debates continue today at 9:30 am.
By EDDIE OSIFELO