Second Reading Speech Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local level Governments(District Development Authority) Law 2013
Mr Speaker, I am very pleased to present this amendment Bill. This Bill will amend the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local level Governments to create District Development Authorities. This is a significant change to our decentralised system.
Mr Speaker, there have been a number of reforms made to the system of government over the last 40 years. Provincial Government wasintended to serve three important purposes:
- greater decentralization;
- locate more decision making with local people; and
- provide greater co-ordination of development activities at the local level.
The Final Report of the Constitutional Planning Committee considered that the system of Provincial Government would open up new opportunities for our people and enable them to become involvedin determining how their affairs should be conducted.The Provincial Government system would preserve the large and diverse groups within the country. In 1976 an amendment was made to the Constitution to include Provincial Government.
Mr Speaker, in 1976 Papua New Guinea was very different to today. PNG was a brand new independent country struggling to make its mark. Some parts of the country had very little contact with the modern world, life expectancy was low and there was limited education. PNG was a new country embarking on a massive challenge. However, since 1976 there have been a lot of changes.
Mr Speaker, thanks to the policies put in place by this government children now receive fee free education providing them with opportunities that many people in my own generation missed out on. We also have subsidised health care, this Government has made significant commitments to rehabilitating the Port Moresby General Hospital and Angua Hospital.
As times have changed so too has our system of government. The first significant change occurred in 1995 when the Organic Law on Provincial Government and Local level Government was passed. It gave far greater prominence to Local-level Government and Local-level Government become a responsibility of the National Government. Provincial Constitutions were removed and Provincial Governments effectively became an extension of the National Government.
Mr. Speaker, a system of Provincial and District Treasuries was established which shifted greater financial accountability to provinces and districts where spending decisions were being made.
Provincial, District and Local-level Government development plans were made mandatory and have now become the backbone of provincial development.
Another significant change has been the unprecedented levels of funding now flowing directly to Provincial and Local Level Governments. In 2009, there was significant reform to the Organic Law when a new funding system was introduced. Grants are no longer based on a kina per head formula they are now based on need. Provincial Governments receive grants based on the cost of delivering services in each district and also taking into account the revenues they already have. Those Provinces that need more funding get more and those that need less get less.
Mr. Speaker, grants are now made for specific service delivery activities and must be spent on the minimum priority activities or MPAs. All indications are that Provincial Governments are re prioritizing their spending. We are seeing significant increases in expenditure in health and education.
Mr. Speaker, as a direct response to the cries ofour people in rural areas in the 2013 Budget Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments received significant amounts of development funding for the districts. Each district received K 5 million and each Local level Government received K500 000. Finally money was being paid directly to where it matters the most – districts and Local Level Governments.
Mr. Speaker, we are seeing real development occurring. JDPBC around the country are rehabilitating roads, building foot bridges and purchasing much needed vehicles and equipment for police and other public servants. Just last week I was in Finschaffen for the opening of a multi-purpose office building to house the local bank, post office and district headquarters. The people of Finschaffen have access to essential services. This was built with the support of the local JDBPC using district development funds.
Mr. Speaker, the JDPBC has been so successful that it has outgrown its original design. According to the Organic Law the JDPBC has a largely administrative role, it approves the Local level Government budget and makes recommendations to the Provincial Government on budget allocations and draws up the five year district development plan.
Mr. Speaker, we all know that in reality the JDPBC is doing far more. It is now involved in the implementation of plans and programs at the district level. We need a proper legal framework for it to operate in.
Mr. Speaker, this amendment Bill marks the next step forward. This Bill will replace the JDPBC with a statutory authority, a District Development Authority. The District Development Authority will be chaired by the open member and will have the same membership as the current JDPBC.
Mr. Speaker I will be bringing an ordinary Act of Parliament next year which will provide all the details of the District Development Authority. This means there will be a chance to get the input of all members on how the District Development Authority will operate. At this stage, it is planned that the District Administrator will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority and all public servants including police and teachers in the district will come under the control of the Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Speaker, District Development Authorities will be able to enter contracts and sue and be sued. They will be the legal owners of all equipment purchased. There will be no more confusion about who owns equipment purchased with the DSIP.
Mr. Speaker, this amendment will significantly strengthen districts. The majority of our people live in small villages serviced by the district headquarters. Services are delivered in their location not here in Port Moresby, Lae or Mount Hagen.
Mr. Speaker in order for the country to continue to grow we must take action to strengthen districts. We must return to the original intention as expressed in the CPC – we need to bring government to the people and empower people to make decisions for their own future.
Mr. Speaker,this is a very simple amendment Bill, it will replace the JDPCB with a District Development Authority. The details of the District Development Authority will be provided in an ordinary Act which I will be brining next year. However, the benefits this Bill will bring are enormous and I look forward to having further discussions with members as we finalize the details for this significant initiative.
Mr. Speaker, I commend the Bill to the house.