The Premiers consultation meeting on the draft Federal Constitution gets underway in Gizo today (03/04/23) following the official opening by the Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening Hon. Rollen Seleso and Western Provincial Premier Hon. Billy Veo.
Over the next 4 days, the country’s provincial Premiers including the Deputy Mayor of Honiara City Council will deliberate and express their views on issues regarding the draft Federal Constitution with guidance from legal experts’ and officials from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Initial discussions and drafting of the Federal Constitution started more than 15 years ago and went through several consultations and deliberations before it reached a version that is believed to suit the requirements of the country.
The initial draft was handed over to the Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare in 2019 and is yet to be tabled in Cabinet for further deliberations.
Even though Provincial and Community consultations nation-wide were carried out over the draft, the current DCGA Government realized the need for Provincial authorities to express their views once more for Government consideration.
“The Gizo meeting is indeed an opportunity for you to review, raise issues and questions to seek clarifications that best represent the interests of your respective Provinces,” said Hon. Seleso at the opening ceremony.
Legal experts from the Attorney General’s chambers and Officials from the Prime Minister’s Office are part of the consultation meeting this week to explain the features, challenges and implications of the document to seek the Premiers’ views on the way forward for the implementation of the Federal Constitution.
The meeting provides an opportunity for the Premiers to have a deeper understanding of the draft document and its implications on the future direction for its implementation.
Day one of the meeting was preceded by presentations and updates on progress of the ongoing review of the Provincial Government Act 1997 including the Revenue Sharing Scheme by Officials from the Ministry of Provincial Governments and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS).
Minister Seleso informed the Premiers that the National Government is keen on seeing the completion of the PGA 1997 review as a precursor to the federal constitution to prepare Provincial Governments ahead of the transition towards adopting the federal constitution.
The PGA 1997 review process is a top priority for the National Government with the aim to resolve loopholes in the current PGA to promote service delivery and to enhance effective functioning of the Provincial Government system.
It is envisaged that the revised PGA 1997 will be tabled in Parliament before the end of 2023.