By HELEN TARAWA
ESA’ALA MP Davis Steven, pictured, has resigned from Cabinet to spend more time with his electorate, although he hinted his “struggles” with the Government’s central agency influenced his decision to leave.
“I have resigned to spend more time in my electorate and province in the remaining years of this term of parliament,” the Justice Minister and Attorney-General said.
“I have no issues with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in so far as how he has managed. But I can say that there is a need to improve the central government agencies, especially where the bureaucracy is concerned.
“My own struggles with the Central Agency Coordination Committee led by the Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari (are) well documented. Of concern where my work here has been affected is in our inability to get work done at the central agency level. And that’s something that the prime minister is fully aware of,” Stven said.
Steven said he was grateful to O’Neill for the opportunity to serve as a Cabinet minister.
“My main concern is to spend a bit more time with my people. I’m managing an isolated rural district which had been hit by earthquake (last year) and certain other calamities.
“About six months ago, I did express this intention that if I free myself, I can spend more time with my people.” In accepting his resignation, O’Neill paid tribute to his loyalty and commitment in the past seven years as a Cabinet minister. He said Steven had discussed with him why he needed to concentrate more on the electorate.
“The region is still rebuilding after the earthquake and there is a lot of work to be done. His people are suffering and as their elected member he is focusing on rebuilding communities. He has Government’s full support in these ongoing efforts.”
He praised Steven for serving “admirably” as Minister for Civil Aviation in the previous Parliament, and as Minister for Justice and Attorney General since the 2017 election.
“He has initiated a number of reforms in both portfolios. His work has made our aviation sector more efficient and safer, and strengthened our justice sector.”
O’Neill named Kandep MP Alfred Manase, the Civil Aviation Minister, to be the acting Justice Minister and Attorney-General, as the position “is highly important for public and business sector governance”.
He said Manase “has the requisite experience” to fill the “senior Cabinet position”.
“Manase has a strong legal background and a comprehensive knowledge of critical issues in the justice system,” he said.
By HELEN TARAWA