New provinces’ bill passed

National, Normal

PARLIAMENT has passed transitional arrangements for the new Hela and Jiwaka provinces amid serious opposition from a Government minister and backbencher from Southern Highlands.
Minister for State assisting the Prime Minister and Nipa-Kutubu MP Philemon Embel and Kagua-Erave MP James Lagea voted against the Bill for the Hela Transitional Authority claiming that it was not circulated to all MPs for input and that Hela was claiming all the resource areas of Southern Highlands.
Mr Lagea raised several point of orders saying that Lake Kutubu in Nipa-Kutubu electorate should be in Southern Highlands and not Hela province.
Mr Embel also raised the same point calling for amendments to go before the committee although the committee made amendments only for Mt Bosavi.
Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru was also seen leaving his chair to consult Mr Embel about the matter before the vote was taken.
Parliament, despite that, passed both the Hela Transitional Authority Bill by 60-2 votes.
It also passed the Jiwaka Transitional Authority Bill by 60-0 votes.
The argument stems from the composition of the authority that will include Tari-Pori MP, Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP, Komo-Margarima MP, governor of Southern Highlands, a representative from Tari, Tebi, Tagali, Haypuga, Hulia, South Koroba, North Koroba, Komo, Lake Kutubu, Lake Kopiago, Awi Logaye, Pori, upper Wage and lower Wage, a church, women and two other persons associated with Hela province.
Southern Highlands MPs, including Mr Agiru, Education Minister and Tari-Pori MP James Marape, Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape and Koroba-Lake Kopiago MP John Kekeno, later gave assurance that the boundaries affect only a section of the Kutubu area that is in the Hela region.
Mr Marape said the concerns raised by the two MPs were genuine but was caused due to technical problems and that would be rectified.
“The political boundary still remains and the misunderstanding must be resolved,” Mr Marape said.
He thanked all the MPs for their vote and said the concerns of Mr Embel and Mr Lagea would be addressed in the November sitting of Parliament.
Minister for Provincial Affairs Job Pomat said the creation of the two new provinces triggered the establishment of a provincial government but it would take some time for its establishment.
In order to ensure the smooth transition to the new provincial government, a transitional authority had to be established, he said.
The entity would operate for the period of time before the provincial government was established after the 2012 national elections.
“Its main role is to make the necessary preparations for the new province.”
Mr Pomat said that the role of the authority would be to start preparations for the new provincial administration, including securing land and a building plan for the new provincial capital, securing assets and infrastructure necessary for the new administration and, in consultation with the Personnel Management Department, develop a staffing structure for the new province.
In July, Parliament approved the boundaries for the two new provinces.