Minister of the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) Honourable Duddley Kopu and his ministerial executive yesterday (17 May) received a courtesy visit from the Western Province Premier Honourable Billy Veo and his executive and discussed possible areas for collaboration toward enhancing rural development in the Province.
Premier Veo and his executive are currently in Honiara to meet with key government ministries/agencies and other important key stakeholders with the intention of introducing the new executive government and more so with a view to establishing an understanding in terms of respective critical policy areas and subject matters that shall be prioritized by the current executive government in the next 4 years.
The meeting was a success as both political leaders exchanged talks on possible areas for close collaboration to support development in rural areas in the Western Province with possibility of projects funding assistance to be channelled not necessarily to individual WDCs but to a common provincial project through the provincial authority.
Premier Veo and his delegation also used the opportunity and highlighted development projects in the Province and Wards that were implemented through the WDCs and other potential project opportunities that could be collaboratively employed by key government ministries like MRD through WDC.
The two sides also discussed probable approaches that National leaders (Members of Parliament) and Members of Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) should explore to strengthen development in respective wards in our rural areas.
Premier Veo also acknowledged Minister Kopu, his Permanent Secretary Dr Samson Viulu and staff for the current reform work that the ministry is undertaking especially with the review of the CDF adding, reforming CDF is the way forward as rural development is concerned.
Meanwhile, Minister Kopu thanked the visit by the Honourable Premier Veo and his executive members and officials of the province.
He said as the Minister responsible for rural development, his ministry welcomes the opportunity to work closely with all provinces through the WDC approach.
Whiles welcoming this opportunity, Minister Kopu said CDF is the only funding program that sits with the ministry but, is directly under the directives of the constituency offices.
“Therefore, it is imperative that Members of Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) and WDCs work closely with their respective MPs to deliver projects through the CDF program.
“Some constituencies are taking this particular approach to collaborate with WDCs and one example is that of West New Georgia Vonavona Constituency (WNGVC).
“I believe WNGVC started this collaboration with their WDCs last year and will continue this year with recent signing of MOU between the Constituency Member of Parliament, Western Provincial Government (WPG), Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS), WDCs and MRD.
“Another example of a successful collaboration between constituency and the provincial authority (executive) is the successful construction of the Lomlom road in the Reef islands, in my own constituency.
“The Lomlom ring road is a long-time cry of the people but it went through a lot of disputes due to politics and other interests. Not until the constituency reached out to the provincial government of Temotu that the road was finally constructed and is now in its final stages for completion.
“There are other successful stories of collaboration that I hear of, some in Central Makira, Malaita and Isabel to name a few.
“Collaboration between the ministry (MRD) and provincial authorities is a platform that we have yet to exhaust and worthy to embrace. Funding may not necessarily go to individual WDCs but to a common provincial project through the provincial authority, for instance,” Minister Kopu said.
The Minister also informed Premier Veo and his delegation on the current work that MRD is undertaking to reform the CDF program by strengthening its governance through amendment to the CDF Act 2013 along with draft regulations to enforce the new Act.
“We expect the new CDF Act to reach Parliament this September and hopefully it will be passed and gazette in the 12th Parliament. The new CDF Act will operate more like WDCs where MPs no longer sign the constituency account however, still maintain some coordination roles.
“The new CDF Act encourages close collaboration between provincial authorities and Constituency Development Committees, the revised Act also recognizes the role of provincial authorities in the delivery of the CDF program,” Minister Kopu stressed.
Among the important matters discussed were area of collaboration between the ministry (MRD) and provincial authorities.
“Provisions in the new Act require the ministry to establish at least one Constituency Development Growth Centre (CDGC) in each constituency where provincial lands is the preferred site for the center. This is where involvement of provincial authorities is required.
“These development growth centres will host technical line ministries based on the comparative advantage and needs of the constituency. There are many changes and improvement we expect under the new CDF Act,” Minister Kopu told Premier Veo and his executive.
– MRD Press