Rick Houenipwela

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The Right Honourable

Rick Houenipwela

Matt Thistlethwaite Rick Hou 2013 (cropped).jpg
Houenipwela in 2013
12th Prime Minister of Solomon Islands
Assumed office
15 November 2017
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor GeneralFrank Kabui
Preceded byManasseh Sogavare
Minister for Finance
Assumed office
21 November 2011
Prime MinisterGordon Darcy Lilo
Preceded byGordon Darcy Lilo
Minister for Public Service
In office
18 April 2011 – 10 November 2011
Prime MinisterDanny Philip
Preceded byStanley Sofu
Succeeded byAlfred Ghiro
Member of Parliament
for Small Malaita
Assumed office
4 August 2010
Preceded byWilliam Nii Haomae
Personal details
Born8 August 1958 (age 60)
Political partyDemocratic Party

Rick Houenipwela, more commonly known as Rick Hou, (born 8 August 1958[1]) is a politician, and the incumbent Prime Minister of Solomon Islands.[2].

He has a Bachelor's degree in accounting, and served as Governor of the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands "for more than 15 years" before becoming Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the World Bank, and then going into politics. The Solomon Times described him as "one of the key public figures in the Solomon Islands whose credibility is intact, if not enhanced, after resisting corruption and several attempts by fraudsters to bankrupt the nation during the ethnic conflict" of the early 2000s.[1][3]

The magazine Islands Business named him "Man of the Year" for the Pacific region in 2003, at a time when he was Governor of the Central Bank.[4] ABC Radio's Sean Dorney described him in 2011 as a critic of excessive exploitation of the country's forests, a modest man who had shown "strength [...] over the years in standing up to those who have exploited the country. He took a courageous stand in defending the Central Bank from extortion in the face of considerable intimidation from those with the guns during the worst of the ethnic tensions".[5]

His career in national politics began when he was elected to Parliament as the member for Small Malaita in the August 2010 general election, standing as a member of the Democratic Party.[1] Party leader Steve Abana became Leader of the Opposition, and appointed Houenipwela Shadow Minister for Finance and the Treasury.[6] In early April 2011, having been ousted from the leadership of the Opposition, Abana defected to Prime Minister Danny Philip's government, bringing with him several members of the Opposition, including Houenipwela. The latter was appointed Minister for Public Service.[7]

In early November 2011, several ministers joined or rejoined the Opposition, ultimately bringing down the government. On November 9, three ministers returned to the Opposition. The following day, Rick Hou joined them. On the day after that, Prime Minister Danny Philip sacked Finance Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, reportedly for conspiring with the Opposition. Hours later, Philip announced his own resignation, as he clearly no longer had the numbers with which to govern. On November 16, Parliament chose Lilo to replace him.[8] Lilo appointed Hou as his Minister for Finance.[3] Upon his appointment, Houenipwela told the Solomon Star he would seek to exempt "low paid workers" from paying tax, while also "lower[ing] the tax rates to enable companies to be profitable". There would be increased government support and investment in "productive sectors", including agriculture, tourism and fisheries.[9]

In April 2015, he took a stand in Parliament against members of Parliament being exempted from paying income tax. He stated that he would refuse his own tax exemption.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Biography on the website of Parliament
  2. ^ Houenipwela sworn in as Prime Minister
  3. ^ a b "Hou Sworn in as Finance Minister", Solomon Times, 22 November 2011
  4. ^ "Solomon Islands: ON AN IMPRESSIVE RUN", Islands Business
  5. ^ "Returning stability to the Solomons", ABC Radio Australia, 4 December 2011
  6. ^ "Abana is new Opposition leader" Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., Solomon Star, 1 September 2010
  7. ^ "Ministers axed: Replacement sworn in" Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine., Solomon Star, 19 April 2011
  8. ^ "PM Resigns" Archived April 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Solomon Star, 11 November 2011
  9. ^ "Hou’s vision" Archived November 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Solomon Star, 22 November 2011
  10. ^ "Solomon Islands MP Rick Hou to refuse tax-free salary", Radio Australia, 1 May 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
Manasseh Sogavare
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
2017–present
Incumbent