The Premier of Western Province Christian Burley Mesepitu has asked the government to explain what is its policy on provincial elections as it is too vocal about the extension of Parliament to five years.
In a statement today, Mesepitu said the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) was recently vocal on extension of the life of the National Parliament to 5-years.
“The reason for extension is to implement DCGA policy on the Pacific Games 2023. Policy implementation, it seems to DCGA, is supreme over the National Constitution of Solomon Islands, our supreme law in the country,” he said.
The premier said should the life of the National Parliament be extended to 5-years, what, then, is the DCGA Policy on the life of Provincial Assemblies?
Mesepitu said: “On one hand, amendment of the National Constitution on extension of the life of the National Parliament to 5-years requires two-thirds majority. On another, extension on the lifeline of the Provincial Assembly to 5-years requires amendment of the Provincial Government Act 1997.”
He said the DCGA cannot isolate Provincial Assemblies from the National Parliament when it comes to legislative and regulatory reform adding that extension of the life of the National Parliament must not be isolated from that of the Provincial Assembly.
Mesepitu said Provincial Elections are due soon in some provinces.
“Will Parliament in its current sitting debate the consequential amendment of the Provincial Government Act 1997? Or will this be a legislative oversight on the part of the DCGA?” he asked.
On another consideration, the premier said, DCGA needs to assess the likely impacts of COVID-19 restrictions to holding of Provincial Elections in 2022.
“Coronavirus is widespread and elections gather voters against COVID-19 protocols. Election would be a super spread event for coronavirus.
“In the meantime, we cannot deny that implementation of Provincial Government policies, programs and plans in all of the nine-provinces is unnecessarily denied by COVID-19 restrictions. This problem of implementation is especially true for Choiseul, Rennel Bellona and Western Provinces where new Provincial Premiers were recently elected and new Provincial Executives appointed,” Mesepitu said.
He said the programme of activities for Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF) and Ward Development Committees (WDC), therefore, are affected and must be carried forward for normal-time-implementation.
Mesepitu said immediately, as a policy matter the DCGA must move away from the traditional concept of ‘Institutional Strengthening’ of Provincial Governments as in MPGIS and develop into a vibrant entity of ‘Institutional Strengthening’ for State Governments.
“It is now high time for MPGIS to be become the Ministry of State Governments and Institutional Strengthening (MSGIS) by policy decision. Similarly, PCDF should become a State Government mechanism in the form of State Capacity Development Fund (SCDF).
I am sure that redirection of DCGA policy on institutional strengthening of State Governments with mechanisms of State Capacity Development Fund will foster improved socioeconomic livelihood for all Solomon Islanders,” the premier, said.