CONSULTATION with Rennell & Bellona community members on the draft Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill (TGCF) 2018 has been completed successfully last week.
First consultation is at Bellona atoll on Friday 1st June with the facilitating team comprised of officers from the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace (MNURP), Culture Division of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and an officer from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Government Communication Unit.
Bellona’s Matangi Council of Chief representative Alo Sangatango said they are thankful for current government efforts to empower and recognize them in this country’ peacebuilding process.
“I thank Solomon Islands National Unity and Rural Advancement (SINURA), Democratic Coalition of Change Government (DCCG) and current Solomon Islands Democratic Coalition for Change Government (SIDCCG) for their work in moulding this draft bill.
“A system to empower traditional leaders should have been amended and slotted into the constitution after gaining independence.
“It is welcoming news now this bill will recognize our roles and duties in the community level and eventually become a law for us to abide and execute.
“It is a good leadership structure that our government will empower and ensure power hierarchy is applied to our communities,” Mr Sangatango said.
Interestingly, discussions with Bellona leaders is more centred on the traditional governing structure as proposed in the draft bill and their ground situation whereby they have more than four council of chiefs.
As gathered from comments aired, the Polynesian chiefs and elders agreed that they have to concentrate on the setup of the upper house first whilst their lower council of chief’s houses is an in-house matter which they will compromise and adjust to fit in.
Nonetheless, after leafing through the draft bill clauses, Bellona participants consented that the bill be allowed for tabling in parliament in the July-August sitting.
Consultation for Rennell Island community representatives on Friday last week is graced by the Province Honourable Premier Collin Singamoana who thank MNURP for the initiative to establish provisions for traditional governance and customs.
“On behalf of the provincial government and people of Rennel & Bellona, I would like to thank the Director Reuben Lilo and his Deputy Morris Maitaki for being very instrumental in pushing that every ethnic groupings must have their opinions and inputs in this draft bill.
“It is my people’s honour to be recognized in the bill’s consultation process,” Premier Singamoana remarked.
Hon Singamoana also acknowledge the participants for their attendance and inputs during the meeting.
MNURP Director Reuben Lilo went on the highlight the government’s effort to have the bill passed in parliament.
“This bill’s consultation is nationwide.
“Your comments, questions and suggestion will be taken on board and furnished for the final bill, “Mr Lilo said.
A participating Rennell chief said this is a straightforward process since they have been anticipating for the TGCF Bill.
“For Polynesian context, the draft is tuned according to our traditional practices and leadership style,” the Rennell man said.
Also accompanying TGCF Bill 2018 consultation is the Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expression Bill.
Deputy Director of the Culture Division under Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Houliah in his presentation on both islands highlight the importance of the bill to protect and conserve our traditional and cultural heritage.
In his presentation, Mr Houliah briefed on the importance of intellectual property (IP) pro bono work, to try to secure a trademark for the art works or avoid commercial advertising campaigns of our traditional and cultural aspects.
He also revealed that with this bill passed his ministry will then establish a division which will help in the register of ownership of IP with copy right mandate.
“This is a historic because Solomon Islands is the first country in the region, to develop a draft legal framework to validate legislation to protect Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expressions,” he said.
All in all, meetings on the Polynesian atolls is hailed a success seeing the more than 117 participants comprising of chiefs, church clergies, police, women, youth and schools heads show their staunch support for the bill to be passed.
In the meantime, only Isabel and Guadalcanal are yet to conduct their consultation whilst the rest now completed.
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