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Date Posted: 19:23:28 07/10/03 Thu
Author: Anonymous
Subject: State government [SI]

Solomon Islands Constitutional Reform Project

Study of State Government Completed

The first step in the Solomon Islands Constitutional Reform Project has been completed. It is a study of the social and economic aspects of a system of state government proposed by government. Ideas for this system of government came from a historic meeting of Premiers at Buala, Santa Isabel, at the end of 2000. A State Government Task Force then prepared a report that listed the powers and functions that could be transferred to provinces so that they could become states.

Many people and politicians have said they want to have a greater say in what happens in their provinces. They want less control from Central government. Some provinces have been pressing for state government for a long time. The troubles of 1998-2001 meant that Provincial security became a big issue in discussions on state government. For some, state government is said to be "a matter of survival".

The primary purpose of the Study is to identify the matters that need to be dealt with when increasing powers to provincial level so that they will be implemented in a way that benefits all people. This information can be used in consultations and discussions about the proposed constitutional reform process leading to state government. The Study considers the changes a new form of government might bring about in the daily life of Solomon Islanders. Attention is paid to the important role of citizens in governance, and to gender equality, food security and poverty alleviation.

Another important aspect of the Study is an analysis and recommendation regarding ways of distributing revenue from the use of natural resources ?between resource owners and states, and between states and a federal government. It is hoped to be able to propose an acceptable “fair-sharing?formula.

Some people have high expectations for what state government can do in helping to restore stability in the country. The Study report is to be written so as to help people to understand what state government might do to improve life in the Solomon Islands. It will also make clear that state government is not an answer to all the country's problems. To be effective, it needs a strong foundation of honest and capable politicians and public servants, and support from the public.

The Study has found that political support for state government remains strong. However, interviews with the public revealed that many could not comment because they had not heard, or did not understand, what was proposed. Of those who were aware of state government proposals some worried about the speed with which the decentralisation process is proceeding.

Provinces differ in their views about the relative advantages and disadvantages of decentralising essential services such as health, education and policing. Planners and policy-makers in these critical sectors have not analysed decentralisation options or impacts.

Some people have questioned the country’s readiness and capacity to embark on a major change in the system of government at this time of instability. Others, however, believe that "State government" should proceed quickly. They believe that this is necessary to bring security, peace and prosperity, and to establish a stronger foundation for national unity.

The Study has found that a lot of attention has been on political and structural aspects of state government. Little has been said about how communities, custom, traditional leaders or local level government relate to state government. There was no information about decentralisation from “State?level to lower levels, and particularly to the village level. This meant that it was not clear how village communities might benefit from a change in the form of government. These matters are being left to States to decide. However, the public will have an opportunity to find out more and to have their say when consultation teams visit all Provinces in February to discuss state government issues.

<a rel=nofollow target=_blank href="http://www.peoplefirst.net.sb/CR/cr_update_17-12-02.htm">http://www.peoplefirst.net.sb/CR/cr_update_17-12-02.htm</a>

Henry H. Kellam III
Project Coordinator,
Constitutional Reform Project (SOL/02/003)
5th Floor Anthony Saru Building
Ph: 677 28865 Mobile 677 78042


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