Over provincial govt Act which disadvantages provinces
BY ULUTAH GINA
GIZO NEWS BUREAU
THE Western Provincial Government (WPG) is prepared to file a lawsuit against the national government in the High Court over introduction of the Provincial Government Act of 1997.
Premier David Gina made the statement after realising that the said Act appeared to have uprooted the Provincial Act of 1981 which empowered provinces to grow.
He expressed that Solomon Island is in a dilemma after the passage of the Provincial Government Act 1997.
“The Act paralyses all provinces, leaving them with next to no powers to govern themselves,” the premier said.
Mr Gina added that second appointed days are celebrated every year, the significance of the day itself is meaningless.
“Under the Act all the provinces in the country are powerless after the 1997 Provincial Government Act which seemed to return all powers to the Central Government,” he said.
Speaking to Solomon Star Gizo, Premier Gina said that his government is in the process of challenging the Act.
He explained that the 1997 Provincial Government Act was void of real powers and never lived up to provincial empowerment.
“Since 1997, there was very little the provinces could do because the powers previously bestowed on them through the devolution of powers were hijacked by the central government.
“Provinces can only prosper under the 1981 Provincial Government Act and the reintroduction of the said Act is a quest that my provincial government is committed to doing,” he said.
He said some political leaders who were elected in the mid-1980s and 90s fought against the PGA 1981 because they were determined to usher in an entirely new provincial government structure.
Review reports for the new order were written, culminating in the Milner Tozaka Report on Provincial Government Act 1996.
The result was the enactment of the PGA 1996. Although it was short lived, that legislation had repealed the 1981 PG Act, he said.
In February 1997 the High Court of Solomon Islands ruled that the PGA 1996 was unconstitutional and ordered its invalidation. Without thorough consultation though the PGA 1997 was enacted in its place
“Today the country is struggling to make it work or more accurately, to make sense of it, is it following the constitutional scheme or is it headed in another direction?
“If the national government through the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) does not address the situation properly, Western Province has expressed the desire to seek a declaration on the role, status, functions and Constitutionality of the Provincial Government,“ he uttered.
The premier said that the people and Government of Western Province firmly believe that the PG Act 1981 displayed the kind of government structure, flexibility, permissiveness and pragmatism necessary to accommodate the diverse emerging political aspirations in different provinces which could facilitate its aim to transition to the proposed Federal System of Government.
For Western Province, this particular aspiration is one step to fulfillment after the completion of the Constitution of the Republic of Solomon Islands Draft in 2018, he said.
“However, other vital government documents such as the Townsville Peace Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report have also focused on attaining sustainable peace through federalism.
“The latter has yet to be put to Parliament whilst the former had brought the peace back at the height of the ethnic tension,” the premier said.