Malaita Province is looking at introducing an ordinance aimed at making customary land available for development in the Province.
The Malaita Premier, Hon Peter Ramohia spoke of this intention by his executive and a meeting they had with Prime Minister Sogavare and Cabinet Ministers who were in the Malaita Provincial capital for the province’s 33rd Second Appointed Day Anniversary.
He said the country’s Customary Land Tenure System has long impeded the development and economic growth of Malaita Province and his Malaita Alliance for Reform and Transformation Government is determined to address this situation.
The Premier said his MART Government believes that addressing customary land tenure by recognizing tribal ownership and having a systematic setup to manage land for development is the way forward for Malaita Province and on that note requested the National Government to support its pursuit to introduce this model of customary land through an ordinance.
The Premier added that his executive understands that the Democratic Coalition for Change Government has the political will to carry out its policy objective to open up customary land for development and along that same line, the proposed ordinance is an important reform his Malaita Alliance for Reform and Transformation Government would want to introduce in an effort to accomplish its development agendas for Malaita.
Prime Minister Sogavare reaffirmed the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s commitment to its policy objective on land reform to ensure economic development in the country.
He said in pursuit of this policy agenda, DCCG has engaged a Solomon Islands Fiji-based lawyer to work on a suitable Customary Land Tenure model for Solomon Islands based on Fiji’s Customary Land Tenure system.
The Prime Minister said two pilot projects will be implemented in Guadalcanal and Malaita to test the suitability of the model for adoption by Solomon Islands.
He said it is good that discussions on such a significant reform has commenced to gauge the public thinking as eventually bills for this reform will have to go to Parliament for approval.
Other issues of discussion during the meeting included Auki Road Tarsealing project, Gwaunaru’u Airport Tarsealing and Expansion proposal and the Malaita Provincial Assembly Chamber.
On the Auki, Road Tarsealing project, Premier Ramohia expressed the concern of his executive about the quality of the tarsealing work provided by the contractor.
“The quality of the tarsealing work is not up to the expected standard and furthermore the tarsealing work is very slow. I have raised this matter with the relevant Permanent Secretary and we deem it important that we raise it again with you given the opportunity of this meeting so that it can be addressed.”
Responding to that concern, Prime Minister Sogavare said if the quality of the tarsealing work done on the Auki road is not up to the expected standard as expressed by the Premier then it is something that the national government must address.
On the Gwaunaru’u Airport Tarsealing and Expansion proposition by the Malaita Provincial Government, Premier Ramohia said Honiara-Gwaunaru’u route service is in high demand and such it is time the National Government should have the airport tarsealed and if possible expanded.
The Prime Minister in turn said tarsealing of airports in the country is an ongoing project of the national government and the Gwaunaru’u airport will eventually be covered and as for the airport expansion aspect of the proposition, the Prime Minister said the Malaita Provincial Government will have to choose between expanding the airport or having a new airport constructed in another part of the Province.
As for the Malaita Provincial Assembly Chamber project, the Premier thanked the National Government for its financial support towards the initiative and queried if there are other means through which it can further provide assistance.
He said a site has already been identified, adding that if the project was completed in time, it could be the venue for the 2017 Premiers’ Conference to be hosted by the Malaita Provincial Capital.
The Premier said Malaitans in Honiara have seen the importance of this project and started fundraising activities in aid of it.
In response, Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the commitment displayed by the Malaita Provincial Government towards the accomplishment of this project.
He said the funding provided by the National Government towards this project comes from the Provincial Capacity Development Fund and the increase of the level of assistance to Provinces that qualify to access this funding arrangement will enable the completion of this significant Project.
The Prime Minister added that Malaita Province’s recent qualification to access PCDF funding is a great achievement.
The Prime Minister and his delegation to the Malaita Province Second Appointed Day Anniversary arrived back in Honiara yesterday.