Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has today (04.06.23) sounded a strong call to the government and public service bureaucracy to move along the work of reforming the provincial government system so these governments can be able to better deliver services to the people.

The Prime Minister made the call as he opened the two-day Provincial Governors Conference in Port Moresby this afternoon. The conference is themed ‘Continuing Dialogue to empower Provinces for Improved Service Delivery, Economic Growth and Self Reliance’.

“Provincial governments are the anchor posts of our country and we must empower them with clarity. I realise the struggles and the inherent weaknesses we have carried as we endeavour to deliver services to our people. This is why these reforms are important. We must bring reforms that will allow for positive change that translate to actual delivery of goods and services,” said PM Marape.

“Evidence must point to the structure that we must set up, a structure that this is good for our people.

“Pangu created the provincial government system in 1975 and this Pangu-led government will empower the provincial governments to work better for our country. The vision and the rationale of establishing the provincial governments is correct because in a land of so much diversity, a centralised form of government in Waigani has no complete answer for our people. The government closest to our people must be functioning better to provide services to our people.

“I want to assure you governors; we are not here to dilute or remove your powers or suppress you. We are here to make you work better to assist the National Government in translating policies to our people.

“By now we have four years of experience as National Government under this leadership. In the last four years, though hard it may have been, we have not held back resources but given resources to you. This is evident of our government trying its best to empower you in the ambit of the existing Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government that guides and shepherds our functionality.

“In the last four years, we have averaged about 30 percent of our total government expenditure to you at the provincial level. That is the indication that we are committed to assisting provincial governments.

“The conversation today is contemporary, it is relevant. What is decentralisation in 2023? What are the functions of the National Government, the functions of provincial governments, and the districts? These must be clearly defined so we are not reinventing the wheel or overlapping our responsibilities.

“I want to give you all my fullest assurance. On the margins of delivering the next MTDS for our people, in the context of Vision 2050 focus range to make our country a middle income earning nation by 2050; I want to give you my assurance that this government is committed to ensuring that your calls for reforms is honoured within the context that you are delivering to the expectations of our people.

“Provincial government systems will be strengthened and supported and the reforms that you want must be consistent with service delivery to our people.

“The call is on us to work with haste. This conversation with the governors has been going on for the last 48 years. We cannot defer any more. The Prime Minister speaks but the entire machinery must roll so that the results are coming.

“We must define what the role of DDAs are in the context of supporting development in the country. DDAs must not overshadow provincial governments; DDAs are not government but the delivery arm of the government. We have these weaknesses we must identify, get them fixed so we do not pass these onto the next generation.

“What is the provincial government in 2025 and going forward? It must be cost-effective; it must be our government’s delivery arm to our people. It must have the ability to raise revenue, so Waigani can be elevated to supervise policy directions and legislate,” said Prime Minister Marape.