System a mistake, Dion says

National, Normal

The National, Thursday October 10th, 2013


THE Government made the “biggest blunder” by simultaneously granting provincial government status to provinces in 1976, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion says.

Dion, the Inter-Government Relations Minister, was giving a rundown of the provincial government system when opening a two-day inquiry into the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments in Port Moresby yesterday.

He said the system was a mistake from the start.

A reform carried out in 1995 was politically-driven in some cases and the ball was now in the court of participants to make a change, he said.

“For a country that barely had an educated elite in the 1970s to run the public service, the creation of the provincial governments and local level governments ensured that whatever manpower resources available were spread out thinly at a time when the last remnants of Australia’s colonial public servants were leaving shore,” Dion said.

“But perhaps the biggest blunder in hindsight was a decision taken soon after the adoption of the original Organic Law on Provincial Governments in 1976.

“This was the decision to simultaneously grant provincial government status to all provinces.”

Dion said as it turned out, provinces that had a better pool of manpower and had longer histories of contact with the colonial administration and the outside world were better prepared to handle their own affairs.

“For many of the provinces, the provincial governments introduced new experiences in political leadership and administration within a modern setting – and they were not equipped for such responsibilities,” he said.

“In that vein, the weaknesses of the provincial governments began appearing during the 1980s.”