Tonga parliament

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’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.

Tonga passes Budget with record $US26.4m deficit

The Ministry of Finance receives the biggest allocation with $73 million, while education and health get over $32 million and around $31m respectively.

The Covid-19 economic impacts have struck the kingdom as well as uncertainty over a change in government approach since the death of the late prime minister 'Akilisi Pohiva last September.

Since coming into power seven months ago Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa declared the formation of a new political grouping and selected a new cabinet.

Tonga's King will officially open Parliament this week

The Lord Chamberlain, has informed the Speaker of Parliament, the King will deliver his Royal Address from the Palace to the Parliament's Chamber.

In adherence to the current State of Emergency, only MPs, parliamentary staff and media will be present during the state opening.

Once parliament reconvenes its priority agenda is to consider the national budget for the next financial year which must be passed before 1 July.

     

Controversial Tonga bills back before parliament next week

In March the government tried to have the bills passed without wide public consultation, claiming this had already been done on the same legislation by a previous government.

The legislation would give the government control over key appointments in the judiciary and police, rather than the King, but opposition MPs ensured that widespread public consultations had to be carried out.

That process is nearing its end and opposition MP, Lord Fusitu'a, told RNZ he thinks there is strong backing for the status quo.

Noble MPs remain absent from Tongan parliament

Kaniva News reported the Speaker Lord Fakafanua, one of the nine noble representatives in the House, returned and reported his other colleagues' absence.

The other noble MP who was present was Lord Ma'afu, who is a cabinet minister.

The Speaker said the nobles would not return unless Parliament agreed to a request to include meetings with the public in a consultation process the government was conducting on six new bills and amendments to the constitution.

Despite the absence of the seven MPs, the House conducted business as normal.

Non-government MPs walk out of Tonga's parliament

Kaniva News reported the Chair of the Whole House Committee refused to bring the work of the committee into parliament so that a motion by Noble MP, Lord Nuku, could be tabled.

Nuku insisted that the House should discuss how a public consultation on six new government bills should be conducted.

However, the chair reiterated what Speaker Lord Fakafanua earlier told the House, that the parliament had no right to make any decision on how the government should conduct its consultations.

Tongan MPs debate 'Eua school fees

Many properties were severely damaged during February's Cyclone Gita and local MP Tevita Lavemaau has told parliament, parents had been in financial difficulty since.

Mr Lavemaau was supported by 'Eua noble MP Lord Nuku, who said constituents had contacted him about the issue.

But Education Minister Penisimani Fifita said he had yet to receive any contact from parents on 'Eua regarding any difficulties in paying school fees.

Tonga's parliament set to close with a number of unresolved issues

Noble Representative Lord Nuku says a new Minister of Lands is yet to be announced, after Lord Ma'afu resigned suddenly earlier this month.

Lord Nuku says there is an abundance of land issues that still haven't been dealt with.

Matangi Tonga reports another Noble Representative, Lord Tu'i'afitu expressing concern that there are very few parliamentary meetings scheduled this year, with no sittings scheduled for July and August, and one week set aside in September.