The Solomon Islands Electoral Reform Task Force on Wednesday 26th April, held a half-day information session with all permanent secretaries across all government ministries.

This session was aimed to give an overview of the work of the Electoral Reform Taskforce and the Electoral Reform agendas, its implementation schedule, and its possible implication on government-limited resources.

Permanent secretaries are the accounting officers and managers of government resources at the implementation level across government ministries and it is important that they understood these reforms when it comes to sharing government resources for the purpose of election operations.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr Jimmy Rodgers welcomed and acknowledged Members of the Electoral Reform Taskforce, highlighting the importance of briefing the Permanent Secretaries as these reforms are important.

“Being the accounting officers of the Government Ministries and Chief Advisers of the government, this information session will help us understand how lines ministries can assist and support the Electoral Reform in implementing these reforms, especially for the conduct of the coming 2024 national general elections”, Dr Rodgers said.

Mrs Florence Joel, Chairperson of the Taskforce, highlights that the major electoral reform agendas that the taskforce will seek views and observations on include synchronization of the election of the three levels of election to one polling day, out-of-constituency voting, and the continuous voter registration.

She adds that amongst these three major reform agendas are the amendment to Honiara City Council Act, the amendment to the Provincial Assemblies Act and other provincial election laws, and Electoral Act 2018.

The discussion was in-depth and it was a success as some new insights into these electoral issues were also raised for the Taskforce’s consideration.

Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Infrastructure development, Mr. Stephen Maesiola stressed the need for resource sharing among the Ministries towards the conduct of elections.

“All Ministries should support the Electoral Commission during the conduct of elections, by providing and making available resources at disposal for usage during elections”, he urged.

Views raised and Observations shared by stakeholders during these consultations were noted and will be compiled as a report to be given to the Commission and Cabinet for consideration and endorsement.

The Permanent Secretaries acknowledged the work of the Taskforce and support the electoral reforms that the Taskforce and Commission is intending to implement in the 2024 general elections and beyond.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Jasper Highwood Anisi concludes the session, reemphasizing the importance and the need for support and assistance from line Ministries to the Electoral Commission during the election period.

He further highlighted the need to revive the Inter-Ministerial Electoral Committee (IMEOC) for the 2024 elections.

The Reform Taskforce has consulted all 9 provinces and HCC on these electoral reform issues between March 2022 to March 2023.

The Taskforce’s final consultation will be with the Members of Parliament next month before finalizing its report and recommendations to the Commission and Cabinet.

Taskforce and the Commission is hoping to bring the amendment Bills for these reforms before the parliament in the June/July sitting allowing 6-7 months for preparation for National General Election 2024.

The Electoral Commission and the Taskforce would like to acknowledge the continuous support of the Solomon Islands Government in collaboration with its donor partners the Australian Government and UNDP through the SECSIP project for funding the work of the Taskforce.

Source: Press Release