PAPUA New Guinea will do away with local-level governments (LLGs) and move to have only national and provincial representation if the model proposed by the organic law review is adopted.
Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion used his address at the National Governor’s Conference to outline how the review of organic law on provincial governments and LLGs would impact political representation in the country.
He was quick to assure attendees that “the fate of the LLGs is not lost or misplaced”, with the proposed model suggesting that LLG constituency boundaries be kept for members to be elected to the Provincial Assembly.
“The governor will maintain his or her seat in the Provincial Assembly and will be the critical link between the national and provincial levels of government,” Mr Dion said.
Those who contest the provincial seat and subsequently become governors would not be able to become ministers or prime ministers.
Mr Dion said he expected elected representatives to be uncertain about the merits of the “power sharing” concept and possibly push back against the reforms in favour of the “status-quo”.
“Perhaps they feel that some positive things or developments could be jeopardised,” he said.
“I would like to assure everyone – even as we continue to discuss the best steps forward – that no national or provincial interests will be compromised under the proposed model.”
“[The LLG’s] importance and indispensability to administration and coordination will now come under the provincial and district administrations,” Mr Dion said.
The Governor’s Conference – held in Kavieng, New Ireland on October 14 and 15 – allowed the government to consult with governors on changes to the organic law on local level governments designed to decentralise power and improve services.
The conference culminated in the signing of a joint communique by the governors of the four regions.
“I strongly made the point that a determined effort had to be mounted by all stakeholders to make sure that services were effectively reaching our people in rural areas without unnecessary delays…and the application of the decentralisation policy could be addressed,” Mr Dion said.
In the proposed model the constituency boundaries would be used to accord legitimacy to provincial legislature, unlike the current situation where members are drawn from other elected bodies, Mr Dion said.
“Open members of Parliament will no longer be part of the Provincial Assembly, but will be involved exclusively in their constituencies through the space provided by the District Development Authorities (DDAs),” Mr Dion said.
The new model would be based on a “reward of excellence” for “better performing” provinces, Mr Dion said.
“This will culminate in greater power sharing with the national government,” he said.
“A criterion will be used for compliance so that provinces that have successfully reached certain milestones can move towards the next step on the road towards higher autonomy status.”
Mr Dion said the new model was linked to the government’s desire to grow economies through economic corridors and growth centres.
“If developments work out as anticipated, it is expected that many urban centres would like to move into some form of authorities in the near future,” he said.
“Growth centres must have the appropriate facilities to enhance service delivery operations.”