A SUMMARY of outcomes following the two days Premiers Workshop recently in Honiara on the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) has revealed that the country’s provincial leaders now have an improved understanding of the emergency powers.
According to the summary, those who took measures without fully understanding their limitations realised those errors and promised to rectify them as a result of the meeting.
“The main concerns of the Premiers on COVID-19 as far as the SOPE is concerned were addressed and they re-affirmed their commitment to continue working with the government to fight this deadly virus,” the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Provincial Government said.
He further iterated that the workshop had given the premiers an improved understanding of the level of preparedness and the issues that are being currently addressed by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in preparation for any outbreak.
However, despite the level of preparation, Premiers highlighted that amongst the problems they faced include financing of quarantine centres to lack of basic equipment in the provincial referral hospitals.
Premiers also worried that in the event of an outbreak, they may not be able to do much to protect the people unless there is massive intervention from the SIG and donor partners.
They also highlighted that they should be second to none when it comes to investments in the productive sector to prepare the rural communities for a quick economic recovery.
This view was shared and acknowledged by the Ministry of Provincial Government saying that the Premiers have demonstrated vast experiences in these areas and above all, have a strong accountability mechanism to account for the resources and deliver them quickly.
For that reason, the Premiers appealed during their various interventions for the SIG to consider allocating funds to their PCDF development budget as a conditional grant to be spent by the provinces only in the productive sectors including infrastructures that would facilitate economic growth.
The Premiers also register their concern that whilst the stimulus package was targeting other sectors, the provincial development funding was reduced first from $40 million to $30 million and few weeks ago, was further reduced by $4.5million, leaving them with $25.5 million at a time when they should be supporting the SIG in the recovery program.
The Solomon Star understands that Malaita Province was represented by its deputy because the premier was on a scheduled ward tour at the time of the meeting.
By SAMSON SADE