Temotu Provincial Assembly Speaker – Johnson Levela is calling on the Minister of Provincial Government, Rollen Seleso, to advise all Premiers to comply with the provisions of Provincial Government Act when carrying out roles mandated to them by the Act.
Levela made call after receiving a copy of Letter of Advice from the AG Chambers on the matter of ‘allowable number of Provincial Executive Members’ for Provincial Executives in the Province on Wednesday 27 January 2021.
Levela says that since October 2019 after the appointment of the 9th Member of the Executive of the 17 Member Assembly of Temotu, he had made more than one submission to the Ministry of Provincial Government and AG Chambers seeking second legal opinion that such action could contravene section 19 (1) (c) of the Act.
“No response was made immediately but late last year an opinion was received from the AG Chambers that having a total number of members of an Executive which is more than half of the total number of members in an Assembly is unlawful as it breaches section 19 (1) (c) of the Act,” he said from Lata tonight.
He said attempts made by his Office to have the Ministry give directions to have the Premiers who may have not complied to redress went futile as the Ministry instead opted to await confirmed legal advice instead.
The AG Chambers advice in a letter dated 22/1/2021 had finally been issued to the Permanent Secretary copied to the Speaker confirming that such an action contravenes section 19 (1) (c) of the Provincial Government Act.
Meanwhile Levela says that while the matter can now finally put to rest, he was disappointed that the Senior management of the Ministry including the Permanent Secretary and the Ministry’s Legal Counsel failed miserably to exercise prudence in advising the Minister on matters of law where past practice and literal interpretation is sufficed to draw an informed opinion and make decision that not only complies to the Act but could have save substantial costs to the operations of the Ministry.
Levela stated that it is estimated that one additional member of a Provincial Executive could cost up to at least $350,000 plus per year, and if that is multiplied with 3 additional ministers each for three provinces say Guadalcanal, Malaita and Temotu that would have amounted to SBD1.05million dollars per year for the last two years.
The Speaker of the Temotu Provincial Assemby therefore calls on the Minister to issue directives to any Premier and Executive who had contravened section 19 (1) (c) of the Provincial Government Act to comply and rescind on any such appointment with immediate effect.