Government to financially empower 6135 wards in 2017

BY GORETHY KENNETH

THE Government has made a decision to financially empower all 6135 wards in Papua New Guinea. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced this yesterday during the National Development Forum currently being held in Port Moresby. National Planning and Implementation Minister Charles Abel also confirmed this when separately addressing the participants, government employees, donor agencies, civil servants and non-governmental organizations at the same forum.

Mr O’Neill and Mr Abel said that ward councillors would be empowered to manage the projects as the Government moves to further effect efficient service delivery.

There are 6131 wards, 313 local level governments and 89 districts in 22 provinces of PNG that the Government prioritises for service delivery. Mr Abel revealed yesterday that provisions would be introduced in the 2017 Budget which would be introduced when Parliament sits next week to empower wards financially.

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He told reporters that the Government recognised the difficulties of implementing programs and projects and was exploring “a range of innovative modalities” for effective delivery of goods and services. “One of the factors that I highlighted is that funding needs to go down to the ward level.

“It’s a critical, very important and in many ways it’s going to be a ground-breaking thing.

“I’m in a ward nearly every day, down to the ward level and I know exactly the situation, so it’s an expansion of what the Government is already been doing and will work around there in 2017,”

Mr Abel said. Mr O’Neill said the Government’s move to empower the councillors at the ward level would start next year. “We are now going direct to the ward level. What we are going to do to the ward level is we are going to demarcate the responsibilities very, very carefully,”

Mr O’Neill said. “Right now we have the village court magistrates, we have the village court councillor, the aid post orderly, the elementary school teacher, etc, the level of funding we are going to give them every year is going to cater for those services in the wards, meaning that they are going to be responsible for their projects, village recorder, and other important issues, these are data that we are lacking today because nobody is keeping track of them and many of these village institutions are now on government payroll.

“We will be resourcing them to ensure that they carry out their responsibilities.

“They will be given enough to run their services, so now the wards will get some funding, districts are getting funding and provincial governments are getting funding, this is to impact the way we distribute resources in the country, our districts and our wards.

“I think that this is a good idea to strengthen the wards to go forward and so that they are spending in the right priorities. “We are not giving them an open cheque book, like the provincial governments and districts they must spend on the key priorities of the government to move the wards forward and grow the economy,” he said.

Under the local level government services improvement program, K500,000 had been allocated to each of the 313 LLGs. These funds are also used on a ward level. Mr O’Neill and Mr Abel said that this would change and the arrangement would mean that funding would go direct to wards and ward councillors would determine project priorities

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