Three to go solo

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By DOROTHY MARK
THE Government is expected to grant autonomy to New Ireland, East New Britain and Enga this week, after proving they are ready to manage their own affairs, governors have been told.
Inter-government Relations Minister Kevin Isifu told the national governors’ conference in Madang yesterday that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill would be signing the agreements tomorrow.
Isifu said the three provinces had been preparing for years to gain autonomy and there was no use stalling the process any longer.
“The main principles are that not all provinces are the same. Well-prepared provinces should not be held back and should be allowed to develop (themselves) with more powers,” Isifu said.
“And I stress (that) there is no perfect system, only good leaders. So the Government has already made a decision (to start off) with the three provinces.
“They are ready. In fact they have been prepared for 10 years and we cannot hold them back.”
O’Neill had earlier said the Government was keen to grant autonomy to provinces, allowing them to manage their public service and deliver services
“The Government can (only) worry about (national) security, foreign affairs and finance,” he said.
O’Neill said New Ireland, Enga and East New Britain were “showing us the way”.
“Other provinces need to step up. We all need to step up,” he said.
“Our priority needs to be correct.”
O’Neill said the jurisdictions between the national and provincial governments should be discussed and determined.
“Discussions need to be done so that responsibilities in delivering services do not overlap,” he said.
Meanwhile the 19 governors and provincial administrators at the Madang conference would be discussing developments captured under the Alotau Accord Two.
Madang Governor Peter Yama said Madang was allocated 11 projects in the accord.
Other governors would push for their project allocations to develop their districts.
Isifu said government leaders must work with the district development authorities to develop district services and growth centres.
“One of the directives of the Alotau Accord is to revitalise district towns and ensure they have town managers,” he said.
“We must upgrade towns and encourage skilled workers and the private sector to move into rural areas.”
Acting Prime Minister Charles Abel who opened the conference called for discussions on district development and economic growth.

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