Minister for the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS), Hon. Rollen Seleso (MP) urges participants of the Choiseul Province Induction Training to use the information provided to them and the new knowledge they have just acquired to make right decisions at the right time by looking first, at the interest of the people of Choiseul Province. He emphasised that the training boils down to the enforcement of compliance at all levels by the leaders and decision makers of the Province. The Minister strongly urged the Provincial Executive to call on the Ministry should they need any specific support in this regard.
The Minister made the remarks to the Executive Members, the Non-Executive Members and the Officers of the Choiseul Provincial Government during the official closing of the Induction Training for newly elected Assembly Members of Choiseul Province on 19 May 2023 at Taro.
The training started on 3 May 2023 as part of the National Government’s Policy of Institutional Strengthening of Provincial Assemblies to prepare them to address the complex governance issues that Officers and Members normally face in the Province. The training aimed at making Members understand their roles and responsibilities, appreciate, and enforce the Provincial Legislations. The training was designed to deepen also the Members understanding of basic procedures and processes of managing public funds to ensure good governance and effective service delivery.
One of the key achievements of the training was the validation of the roles and functions of the Members of the Provincial Executive that does not only serve as detailed job description of their portfolios but it also helps them in knowing the future policy directions of their Government. This is as prescribed by the Provincial Government Act 1997, the FMO 2018 and the National Development Strategy.
Choiseul becomes the first Province to receive formally a complete and detailed functional analysis of Executive Roles and Responsibilities by the Minister for MPGIS Hon. Seleso who commended the Ministry team for such a wonderful initiative. He stated that such a piece of document should add a lot of value to their understanding of the functional responsibilities of the Members portfolio as they settle down to lead the provincial service delivery.
Concisely, the training had series of exercises on the newly gazetted Financial Management Ordinance, Procurement Processes and Procedures, Provincial PAC Processes and Inquiry Procedures, Participatory Planning and Ward Development Committees, PCDF Processes, Revenue Mobilisation and Capital Budgeting Techniques. “In this regard, a lot of emphasis, in future, shall be placed on continuous training to ensure you are fully equipped with the right information and tools to move Choiseul Province forward and to re-position it as a frontline bearer of public service delivery. This may not be an easy task but with the continuous support of the National Government and our Donor Partners, I am confident that training of the Provincial Leadership shall be a continuous policy of the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening”, Seleso stated.
The Minister seized the occasion to inform formally the Choiseul Provincial Assembly of the passing of the PGA 1997 Amendment Bill on the 17th of May 203. The passing of the Bill thus extends the life of Choiseul and Western Provincial Assemblies to 2028, whilst the seven other Provinces will be joining the synchronized elections in April 2024. The passing of the Bill means that the Nine Provinces will all be part of the synchronized elections in 2028, which will not only ensure a well-coordinated National and Provincial Election but will also reduce the cost of elections for the Government of Solomon Islands.
On the review of the PGA 1997, the Hon. Minister reiterated that the process that started in 2014/15 is still work in progress and he is hopeful that the Ministry will be able to table the PGA 1997 Review Bill in Parliament before end of this year. The passing of the revised PGA 1997 would not only facilitate effective service delivery at Provincial level but also resolve some of the deficiencies in the current PGA 1997 that affects the Provinces. He stated that certain provisions in the current PGA 1997 are not only outdated but also contradict the recent National Laws.
On the communication challenges raised by the Provincial Members (during the training) in their various communities as they strive to maintain links with their communities, Hon. Seleso assured that the Ministry through its various projects would continue to invest in communications infrastructure to eliminate current communication bottleneck experienced by the Provincial Members and their communities. The Minister cited the recently installed zoom facility at the Assembly Chamber in Taro as part of the continuous communication support and training to the Province by the World Bank’s support to the PGSP through the Integrated Economic Development and Community Resilience (IEDCR) Programme.
“It is therefore critical that we continue to work together to strengthen the information, communication and technology initiatives being provided by the IEDCR, EU funded projects and the UNCDF”, he urged. He cited the submarine-cable internet connectivity in Choiseul as infrastructure solution that everyone can now build on and strengthen communication and information sharing capabilities of the Province.
Seleso informed the Honourable Premier, Speaker, and Members of the Provincial Assembly that the recruitment process of the Provincial Secretary for Choiseul Province is nearing completion with the remaining officers’ recruitment also ongoing. Once the recruitment processes is completed and a substantive Provincial Secretary is in place, the Minister believed that the Executive would have the required technical work force to deliver as targeted.
Hon. Seleso expressed sincere appreciation for the dedication of the Premier, Hon. Tongoua Tabe (MPA), the Speaker, Mr. Isaiah Pitakaka, the Executive, Members of the Assembly, and the hard-working officers of Choiseul Province for the support they gave to the Ministry facilitators for successfully completing the training. He thanked the Ministry, PGSP and IEDCR facilitators for the three weeks of tireless efforts in facilitating this important workshop including the logistic arrangements that went into the preparations.
Speaking earlier, Premier Tongoua Tabe acknowledged the Minister and Ministry facilitators for the three weeks of intensive training, which he described as timely, fruitful and hands on. He stated that after the training he is now confident that he is one of the most effective Premiers in Solomon Islands because of the three key duties of a Member of Provincial Assembly that he has just learned from the training. The three key roles of an MPA are to make appropriate laws through legislation, provide oversight to ensuring that the Executive and the Assembly carry out their responsibilities, and to represent the ward and speak in the Provincial Assembly on their behalf concerning their views and preferences.
The Premier stressed that the Province can now make integrated development planning because they now understand their new valuable tools namely Financial Management Ordinance (FMO) and Financial Instruction (FI), Procurement Manual, other project manuals, and the Provincial Government Act (PGA) 1997.
“Wealth of rich experiences and knowledge have been shared in this value for money training and the challenge for us now is how to translate this gained knowledge into not only tangible outputs and outcomes but growth, efficient and correct management of the affairs of the Province in terms of service delivery for sustainable economic development”, he stated.
The Premier stated that they came in as new MPAs with lot of doubts, insecurities, confusion, and sometimes having light-mindedness. However, after the training, he said, they now have confidence, seriousness, and clarity on the boundaries of their roles and responsibilities and those of the Officers in the Provincial Administration. He stated that if there is any time that the Provincial Members and Provincial Administration Officers need to work together seriously for the betterment of Choiseul Province, it is now, as he believes the official induction and training has empowered and strategically positioned everyone to perform the key roles expected of them as leaders.
He added that when since everyone realizes that we need each other more, then there is the need to walk the talk to deliver services for the people of the Province. He said he really appreciate the training as it has clarified and put into perspective lot of things. He firmly urges Provincial Officers attending the training, to use the newly acquired knowledge and experiences to perform and deliver what the people from their Province expect.
“Take responsibilities more seriously and professionally, perform differently, and better this time round” he strongly urged.
Premier Tongoua also seized the opportunity to thank his colleague Executive Members, Non-Executive Members, Heads of Divisions, and Provincial Officers for the commitment towards attendance and participating in the training. He urged the officers to continue to learn new knowledge, and share experiences, that would contribute to the development of the Province through the delivery of services. He salutes the Ministry and takes off his hat to all the facilitators including those from the integrity and accountability organisations such as LCC, OAG, and Ombudsman Office, citing that the cost for the training is value for money well spent on human capital development.
Hon. George Vanakana spoke on behalf of the Non-Executive Members where he also urged everyone in the Province to work together for the common good of the people of Choiseul. He stated that although he had attended similar induction training before during the previous Assembly, he found this training very useful as he had forgotten most of what he learned four years ago. Hon. Vanakana stated that it would be a big mistake if the Elected Leaders and the Provincial Administration do not work together and support each other in terms of advice and compliance to right procedures and processes in accordance with the prescribed manuals. He assured the Premier and his Executive and the Provincial Administration that the Non-Executive Members are always there as part of the Choiseul Provincial Assembly and would do all they can to support the Province qualify for the PCDF so that services can reach the rural areas that are in need.
Speaking on behalf of the participants, Provincial Treasurer for Choiseul Provincial Mr. Sam Keqa thanked the Ministry for the Induction Training citing that the training has been of great value to the participants. He reiterated that the training has clarified further the boundaries of the roles and responsibilities of Provincial Assemblies and the Provincial Administration Staff particularly the Executive Members as Provincial Ministers.
Minister Seleso (MP), Premier Tongoua (MPA), Hon. Vanakana, and Provincial Treasurer Sam Keqa all spoke highly thanking the officers from the National Parliament, the Leadership Code Commission, the Office of the Auditor General, and the Office of the Ombudsman for the splendid informative and interactive presentations during the training. They extended their appreciations to the catering groups who have been feeding all the delegates to the workshop since day one ensuring no one was hungry. The accommodation owners such as Island Transit, the junior staff of the Province including the cleaners have been very helpful and patient, and worthy of mentioning, all four speakers stated. END###