Tonga Parliament withdraws 16 Bills

Only two of the 18 Bills have been passed.

The House passed the Income Tax Bill 2020 and the Consumption Tax 2020 Bill.

The Speaker, Lord Fakafanua deferred the proceeding of the House until Monday 21 September, in response to the Prime Minister’s withdrawal of the other 16 Bills for Cabinet to “have another look at bills 5.1 to 5.16.”

Lord Fakafanua announced that was all they had on their Working Agenda for the day.

Three Bills passed in Tonga Parliament

They are the Water Bill 2020, Mental Health Bill 2020 and Food Bill 2020.

The Revenue Collection Bill was returned from the Privy Council to be amended, so that a Head of a Tribunal, who may oversee any dispute over the Revenue Collection Act, is to be the Chief Justice, and not a Cabinet Minister.

The Speaker, Lord Fakafanua announced that the Bill had to be submitted to the Finance Standing Committee.

Tonga Parliament takes a break for Standing Committees to deliberate Bills

Speaker Lord Fakafanua also informed members that after the sitting, the House would have another break from 30 June until 10 July.

This gives the Standing Committees of the House an opportunity to complete their deliberations over Bills, Regulations and Petitions that had been tabled in the House, before they were tabled in the Legislature.

Minister of Finance, Tevita Lavemaau reminded members that 30 June is the end of the 2019-2020 Financial Year.

Tonga’s Speaker of the House agrees to withdraw six bills

This follows a request letter written by the Prime Minister, Dr Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa, to withdraw the six bills tabled by the former government.

Dr Tu’i’onetoa and four of the 12 current Cabinet members were part of the previous Cabinet that tabled the bills.

He pointed out that the intention of the Bills was to diminish the authority of His Majesty and the Nobles.

However, Cabinet is now convinced that they could develop the country under the current structure.

The Speaker accepted the request that was put forward by the Prime Minister.

Bills deemed 'urgent' in Tonga set for lengthy delay

There have been a series of walkouts over the past fortnight as the 'Akilisi Pohiva's administration tries to get the bills through.

But the opposition, led by the nobles, say there must be consultation on bills that aim to limit the power of the King, and allow the government to appoint judges and the police commissioner.

While Mr Pohiva has previously talked of such reforms the only public consultations on these bills have been sessions on talk back radio.