On political advisor’s employment
AS the tug-o-war for power in the Malaita Provincial Government continues, a former minister has spilled the beans on Premier Daniel Suidani’s political advisor, Celsius Talifilu.
The man – Elijah Asilaua is the MPA for Ward 11 in the Malaita Provincial Assembly – was the Minister for Forest, Mines and Energy in Premier Suidani’s Malaita Alliance for Rural Advancement (MARA) government.
Hon Asilaua is one of the ministers Premier Suidani had replaced after he allegedly walked out on the MARA government.
He made nine points regarding Mr. Talifilu’s contractual employment with the Malaita Provincial Government.
“Celsius Talifilu’s response to my (earlier) comments concerning his recent employment contract with the Malaita Provincial Government [MPG] is not only deceptive but one that bears the hallmark of someone who is desperate to make himself look good,” Hon Asilaua said in his opening remarks.
He then provides details which were previously unknown about the contract.
“Around 30 April 2020, Mr. Celsius Talifilu signed a contract service with the MPG. This particular contract was for six months which expired on 30 October 2020. This contract did not receive the blessing of the Executive,” he said.
“After 30 October 2020, Mr. Talifilu continued to work without any lawful contract of employment, but was paid salary out of the Provincial fund until 31st March 2021, when his salary was halted by the MPG Administration.
“But it’s more to that. Celsius used to work under PARU office. There was no budget for PARU Office indicated in the 2019/2020 budget. His salary was drawn from (the) Administration budget,” Hon Asialaua said.
“This is an issue because any employment by the Executive must have budgetary provisions. Sections 36 and 34 of the PGA97 provide for when payments can be made out of the provincial fund. This means the budget must have a provision outlining the expenditure of wages or salaries for persons appointed under section 19(3) PGA 1997 by the Executive.
“In this case, there was no budgetary provision for the activities he did at (the) PARU Office,” Hon Asialaua said.
The former provincial minister said Section 19(3) empowered the Provincial Executive to make appointments of officers or servants as maybe required to enable the Provincial Executive to carry out its legal functions.
He added any appointment made by the Provincial Executive “must be required for the exercise of the functions of the Executive.”
“With regards to exercise of Executive functions, section 33(1) PGA97 provides that Provincial Government exercise as regards the Province the functions which are functions of the Executive by virtue of any devolution order made under the former act or any order under section 26.
“Therefore any person appointed by the Executive must have budgetary provisions for its appointment and that such appointment must be made for the exercise of the functions of the Executive,” Hon Asialaua said.
“A closer look at (the) Terms of Reference (TOR) under Celsius Talifilu’s contract signed on 30 April 2020, reveals that the terms of employment do not comply with section 19(3) of the PGA and clearly do not fall within the term for the exercise of functions of the executive as required by section 33(1) PGA97.
“For an employment to fall within that scope of section 19(3) of the Act, it must be for the functions provided for under Schedules 3 and 4 of the Act,” the former minister said.
Hon Asilaua then turned his anger on Premier Suidani.
“Despite obvious issues with Celsius Talifilu’s employment, the Office of the Premier of Malaita Province under Daniel Suidani continued to use him as the Premier’s political advisor.
“It must be noted the Provincial Government Act 1997, does not make provisions for appointment of a political advisor or employment of a political nature at the Provincial government level.
“Importantly, under section 19(3) PGA97, the Executive can only appointment someone to carry out executive functions, meaning functions that are devolved to Provincial Government under the Act and there ought to be budgetary provisions for such appointment,” he said.
“Once or (even if) these are complied with, a person must still undergo normal recruitment as required by Clause 304 of the Malaita Province Staff Instructions 2007, which requires, among other things, a job with the Malaita Provincial Government must be publicly advertised.
“Celsius Talifilu was paid at the rate of $5, 014.41 per fortnight, therefore his position as Head of PARU ought to be budgeted for and advertised. Both these important legal requirements are missing in Celsius Talifilu’s appointment,” Hon Asilaua said.
Hon Asilaua also responded to Mr. Talifilu’s comments on political party system at the provincial government level.
“It must be noted the Provincial Government Act does not make provisions for political party system,” he said.
By ANDREW FANASIA