The Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) is currently carrying out an audit to ascertain the number of Provincial Executive Members in each of the Nine (9) Provincial Assemblies. This audit is triggered by the latest legal advice the MPGIS received from a Senior Crown Counsel at the Attorney General Chambers (AGC). The advice which was relayed on the last week of January 2021 to the Permanent Secretary of MPGIS, Mr. Stanley Dick Pirione, has now clarified a long standing issue that has confronted most of the Provincial Governments on the issue of the number of Members of Provincial Assembly who may constitute the Executive Members.
The advice from the AGC posited that the formation of a Provincial Executive (including the Premier and Deputy Premier) under section 19(1)( c) of the Provincial Government Act (PGA), 1997, “…shall not exceed one-half of the total number of the Members of Provincial Assembly’’. For instance, a Provincial Assembly with 19 Members of the Assembly (that has a half of 9.5) should have Executive Members of 9, and not 10 as currently practiced by some Provinces. Likewise if the number of Members of Provincial Assembly are 33, the Executive, according to the recent interpretation, should not exceed 16..
The MPGIS shall ensure that the correct interpretation is applied given that there were initial confusions and differing legal opinions over the numbers in 2019 just after the Provincial Elections leading to severe delay in issuing a firm statement on the matter.
The MPGIS is confident of resolving this matter and will continue to liaise with the AGC and the Provincial Premiers after carrying out an internal audit to ascertain the numbers so that we are better positioned to issue advices to the Provinces that may withstand legal challenges. The MPGIS shall further organize consultative meetings to inform all Provincial Speakers and Premiers accordingly. The MPGIS is fully aware that the uncertainty or confusions over the application of these laws always gives opportunity for differing interpretation and differing set of number in executive composition.
On other important related matters, the MPGIS is currently reviewing the PGA 1997, as part of the policies of the current DCGA Government and we are confident that issues like this would be thoroughly addressed in revised bill. The newly drafted PGA bill will not only allow the number of Ward Members in the Assembly but it will also clearly outline the number of Executive Members for each Provincial Government.
The MPGIS has already informed a number of Provincial Premiers and Speakers about these changes and the latest advice from the AGC and has also encouraged all the Provincial Speakers to apply their authority under their respective Standing Orders when it comes to the composition of the Executive. The MPGIS sympathizes with the Provincial Speakers on the issues and the Ministry would surely issue a circular very shortly to address the issue once and for all.