Dear editor, it seemed some contributors to this discussion are confused about the process of the scheme. Firstly Parliamentary Entitlements Regulation (PER) is not a bill as some contributors seemed to think. It is a regulation that is make and unmake by the Parliamentary Entitlement Commission (PEC) alone no other body or person has the power to alter the determinations PEC except in 2 cases that I can think of.
In the first case, Parliament can indirectly make Constitutional amendments to the relevant Constitutional provisions (69A, 69B and 69C) and ensure the amendments includes retrospective effect to annul regulations made by the current PEC. In the Second case, the option is to seek redress through the court on the action of PEC. I guess the first option is a difficult one since we are dealing with an issue that is beneficial to the very people who supposed to make and unmake the law. I think the second option is a visible one and is the one that I would like to comment on.
Let's start with the establishment of PEC, as others have alluded to in their various postings. It's a constitutional body established by the Constitution. As such PEC's executive power to execute its mandate has its legal basis in Constitution. This is covered in sections 69A, 69B and 69C of our Constitution. Legally PEC has the power to include and exclude amendments to the PER on an annual basis. The question that one would like to ask is whether PEC in enacting the provisions of the Constitution, in the case that we are discussing, acted ultra vires or beyond the powers of the Commission as provided for under the sections referred to above. This gives rise to a further question of who should take the matter to the court. I am not a lawyer so you lawyers out there would be able to assist us on this. However, it seemed that in instances like this; organs of the state which are constructed by the people purposefully to protect the interests and the rights of the common citizens of our country should act in good faith on behalf of the people. Remember the preamble of our constitution "all power in Solomon Islands belongs to its people and is exercised on their behalf by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary established by this Constitution" This is part of the preamble of our constitution the mother law of our country.
Theoretically it seems this case is a case of two arms of government the legislature and the executive colluding or acted carelessly to meet an end that amounts to the abuse and misuse of public power that is entrusted on them. In such occasions I would like to suggest that the third arm of government, the Judiciary should act voluntarily on behalf of common citizens. The Judiciary should take up a case to check whether in this instance the public power that is given to this institution is not abused and misuse to the extend that puts common citizens in jeopardy in terms of service provisions of the sate to its citizens; the very ones that supposed to be protected. I am not a lawyer and I am not at all well verse with the proceedings of our court system. This is my layman's views.
However if our court system is such that all cases has to be initiated by an interested party and that is in all cases, then the presumption that the courts are there to protect the rights and interest of the people, to me fall short of taking into account the realities of our society. By that I mean a lot of our people just do not know how to deal with such issues let alone the cost of meeting such cases. On that premise I think the court has a moral obligation to the people that it stand to protect and should take up a case to clarify what the law actually says as dictated by the constitutional provisions that are of question here. I believe such clarifications by the court will have positive ramification on any future actions of the Commission. Assuming that the out come of the court is positive in that PEC acted ultra vires to the law then the court sets important court precedence in terms of the court itself in relation to this issues. Not only that but also in terms of cautioning how the commission should apply the provisions of sections 69A, 69B and 69C in its future deliberations.
However if the court rules that PEC's action in this particular case is within the bounds of its lawful mandate, then the only other avenue I can think of in terms of ensuring that the system is not susceptible to abuses and misuses is to make sure that those that will be voted into the House in 2010 are the ones that will change the said constitutional provisions. We all know that is not going to be easy.