Nine provincial premiers have pledged their support towards the newly established Sino-SI diplomatic relationship which is expected to bring about robust development to the rural areas.
In a briefing with Prime Minister’s officials this week the premiers welcomed the historical engagement with China and as the agents of the national government, they will ensure their policies are aligned with the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) development policies, a statement from the Government Communication Unit said.
During the meeting chaired by the newly appointed Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) Commins Mewa, the premiers were updated on MPGIS work programs for 2019/2020 in line with the governments national policy/programs and progress and development opportunities pertaining to the new SIG-PRC bilateral relationships.
Question raised by most of the premiers (except for Isabel province who was absent) were focused on the Rural Constituency Development Fund (RCDF), capacity, risks and management of this new relationship.
The PMO officials took on board some of the provincial leaders differing concerns and went on to announce that a Foreign Policy Advisory Secretariat (FPAS) is soon to be established to oversee the management and coordination of the SINO-SI diplomatic ties.
“Cohesion and unity is needed to drive this diplomatic relationship to see its success and tangible development on the ground.
“We are aware of the risks and therefore, proactive measures are being put in place.
“National government will ensure that we maximize our benefits from this relationship and sovereignty of this nation is safeguarded,” the PMO officials told the briefing.
Spokesperson for the provincial leaders Makira/Ulawa premier Stanley Siapu said they are thankful for the informative session from PMO officials and request that a nationwide awareness must be conducted to clarify the doubts and confusion of the people in the provinces.
Malaita Provincial Premier Daniel Suidani also reiterated that being provincial leaders, they have a mandate to do ensure that their rural people are properly informed and educated on the rationality, aspects and prospects surrounding the switch in allegiance to a powerhouse in the Asia Pacific region and the world.
“People must be furnished with accurate information so they can partake in any sustainable economic development as the resource owners and custodians.
“We are vexed with the recent switch, so do our people and what will happen onwards is informing the people and also aligning of our provincial policies to respect One China principle,” the outspoken Premier said.
Western and Guadalcanal provincial premiers re-emphasized their strong support and policy programs and provide fine examples of their ongoing sister relationships with provinces in China.
Premier of Western Province David Gina also announced his provinces’ first ever sister relationship with Fujian province of China.
Choiseul Provincial Premier Watson Qoloni also joined his colleagues in applauding the national government for the establishment of ties with China and look forward for infrastructure developments to reach his province.
Central Islands Provincial Premier Stanley Manetiva said they respect Cabinet’s decision which is logic and timely but, reminded the national government of the need to consult with people first, whom are the resource owners before such development initiative takes place.
Meanwhile, the eastern provinces of Temotu and Renbel also gave their full support to the government’s decision and urged the government prioritize their fisheries sector and more importantly implement the delivery of basic services to their outlying remote islands.
Both provinces are now anticipating genuine investors to invest in their provinces on the areas like water bottling and export of nambo for Temotu and fisheries and tourism in Rennell Bellona.
Their hope is for PRC China through the government to develop basic infrastructures to facilitate these much needed investments.
Other agendas discussed during the meeting is the need for provincial administrators to be prepared for upcoming events in coordination with the MPGIS and other relevant government line ministries.
MPGIS’s 2020 development budget submission, grants, PCDF assessment, salary/benefits, ward tours, review of Provincial Government Act 1997, Revenue Sharing Bill 2019, Makira-Ulawa national by-election and provincial elections to take place simultaneously, MPA’s induction program for Temotu, Renbel and Guadalcanal, 2020 premiers conference set for Lata of Temotu province, human resource manpower recruitment and fixed term appointments were also discussed during the meeting.
The meeting concluded with the premiers having an audience with the then Acting Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga.
The premiers were accompanied by their provincial secretaries.