«Decentralization REVIEW COMMISSION Report: Volume 1 Report to Parliament Port Vila June 2001 Decentralization Review Commission Report, Volume 1, ...»
Report: Volume 1
Report to Parliament
Decentralization Review Commission Report, Volume 1, June 2001
Figure 1 Record of DRC Consultations in Vanuatu, 2000-01
Decentralization Review Commission Report, Volume 1, June 2001
Letter of Transmittal to Minister
The Hon. Joe Natuman
Minister for Internal Affairs Ministry of Internal Affairs PMB 036 PORT VILA, Vanuatu 15 June 2001 Dear Honorable Minister, The Decentralization Review Commission (DRC) was launched on 20 July 2000 and commenced work in August 2000. It was mandated to complete and submit a report to the Minister for Internal Affairs within nine months.
The Commission is pleased to inform your honor that it undertook extensive consultations in all six Provinces and the two Municipalities, consulted various leaders, including politicians and community leaders, in Government, private and non-government sector agencies and institutions, including Chiefs, Women, Youth and Churches, and people in towns and villages across Vanuatu. DRC also undertook research on international and regional decentralization systems.
The lengthy process involved has meant that the three volumes of the final Report have been delayed by one month. The DRC expresses its sincere gratitude to you, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of CRP for your understanding in granting a short extension to the Project.
Honorable Minister, as the Chairman of DRC I have the honor and privilege to submit the DRC Report to you in accordance with the provisions of Section 31H(3) of the Decentralization (Amendment) Act No. 17 of 2000. The DRC Report is in three volumes: This Volume 1 is a summary of the background, findings and recommendations of the Commission that you would table in Parliament following submission to the Council of Ministers; Volume 2 is the main detailed report which includes a discussion of DRC’s findings and recommendations; and Volume 3 is the detailed raw data and information from the consultations in Municipalities and Provinces.
I would also like to commend to you, Honorable Minister, the efforts of the other two Commissioners, Ms Naomi Bolenga and Mr Lambert Maltock, for their commitment to the work of DRC, the Project Director, Mr Jimmy Nanuman Nipo for his leadership of the project, Secretariat staff, Mr Toco Mara, and Ms Marina Moli for their tireless efforts in finalising this report. Lastly, I would like to thank Dr Shirley Randell AM for editing the report to become the way it is.
Yours sincerely, Ati George Sokomanu Chairman Decentralization Review Commission 7/08/2003
Foreword After 20 years of Independence and within the fabrics of globalization, the modern economic challenges and ever-changing political climate, Vanuatu committed itself to a Comprehensive Reform Program (CRP) in 1997 as the way forward into the new millennium.
The CRP identified the need for a review of the Decentralization system, specifically to examine the current practices, policies and legislation affecting service delivery issues in the rural areas. The main executing agency to facilitate the review was identified as the Ministry of Internal Affairs within the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu. The Government expresses its appreciation to the Asian Development Bank for funding this review.
The then Minister for Internal Affairs, Hon. Barnabas Tabi MP appointed the Decentralization Review Commission (DRC) members on 30 June 2000 and the then Minister for CRP, Hon.
Sato Kilman MP officially launched the Commission on 20 July 2000. Given the short delay in appointing the secretariat to DRC, the work of the Commission commenced in August 2000.
DRC was given a mandate of nine months to present a report to the Minister for Internal Affairs by 1 July 2001.
In carrying out its task, DRC thoroughly sought the views and opinions of people at the grassroots level by visiting Municipalities, Islands and communities in all Provinces, and consulting with leaders and individuals in the Government, non-government and private sectors. Groups, institutions and individuals also made representations to the DRC in response to an intensive advertisement and media program that was undertaken to inform the public about the Commission’s work, inviting all to participate in making contributions.
The evidence indicated that the majority of the people consulted expressed the desire for the present Decentralization system to be improved. While the majority of people expressed a preference for reintroducing Local Councils, DRC’s Terms of Reference specifically mandated the Commission to improve rather than replace the current system of Municipal Councils and Local Government Councils.
Some critics of the current system said that it was imposed from outside and was not consulted on, it hinders service delivery, and it is neither participatory nor democratic. The role of the traditional leaders, women and civil society is not properly recognised. The system is not responding to the changing reality, regardless of changes in policy towards efficiency and productivity. Provision of basic services does not exist at Area Council (AC) and village levels. There is alarming dissatisfaction and frustration over poor services throughout the rural areas of Vanuatu.
There was a general desire for a Decentralization system that is more participatory, facilitates development at the AC and village level, and encourages self-reliance – a system that shows real independence in governance and development. People want a system that allows Chiefs and people at the grassroots to make their own decisions in their ACs in terms of planning and development.
The findings of DRC are not exhaustive and definitive because there is no such thing as one best model of Decentralization in the region or in the world. However, the recommended models and changes are based on DRC’s assessment of feedback of the people of Vanuatu about the experiences of the past. Furthermore, the findings are not necessarily restricted to the Terms of Reference (TOR) since the views of the people cover the totality of the Decentralization – the current system and the need for a new system. The findings therefore cut across other sectors and the need for changes in legislation other than those specified under the TOR.
7/08/2003 iv Decentralization Review Commission Report, Volume 1, June 2001 The report is in three volumes: This Volume 1 is a summary for the Minister for Internal Affairs to table in Parliament; Volume 2 is the main detailed report including a discussion of DRC’s findings and annexes; and Volume 3 is the detailed compiled raw data and information from consultations. To get the full grasp of the findings, Volume 2 is the report to read. To get the feel of what a particular Province said about a particular subject, Volume 3 is where to find it.
The success of the review would not have been possible had it not been for the right calibre and balanced representation of members appointed to the DRC. All the DRC members had reputable backgrounds. The Chairman, Mr Ati George Sokomanu was the Minister for Public Administration in the Government of National Unity in 1979 and later, the First Head of State at the eve of Independence. Mr Lambert Maltock is the current Secretary General (SG) of MALAMPA Province and is a long time Senior Civil Servant in the Administration of Local Authorities. Ms Naomi Bolenga is a former Civil Servant who has had experience in demographic studies and national planning, and is now an academic and active gender specialist. This composition gives a mixed blend of experiences that helped the review to focus on local needs and realities of rural Vanuatu, including gender considerations. Two of the three DRC members have full time jobs. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to thank MALAMPA Province and the University of the South Pacific as well as the Commissioners themselves for their commitment throughout the undertaking of the review.
My special gratitude goes to the Project Director, Mr Jimmy Nanuman Nipo, Policy Adviser, Mr Toco Mara and the Secretary, Ms Marina Moli for compiling the report. I would also like to thank Dr Shirley Randell AM for her assistance in editing the report.
I thank the Advisory and Technical Committee members for their technical advice, efforts and loyalty in accompanying DRC members around communities, attending meetings and commenting on the draft recommendations. DRC is most grateful for the backup services provided by the Department of Local Authorities and the Land Use Planning Office.
I express my sincere gratitude to all the Presidents, Councilors, Secretary Generals and staff of Provinces, the Mayors, Councilors, Municipal Clerks and staff of Municipalities, and Chiefs and community leaders for their assistance in organising meetings.
I wish to further thank the Members of Parliaments, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and individuals from Chiefs, Women, Churches and Youth organisations, nongovernment organisations and the private sector, who either made verbal or written representations to the DRC. I especially thank all the people visited throughout Vanuatu for their concerns and proposals.
My sincere gratitude goes also to the Department of Strategic Management (DSM), The Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC), and Vanuatu Weekly Hebdomadaire for continuously keeping the communities informed of DRC’s work.
Finally, I thank my predecessors who made the initial efforts to implement this CRP initiative.
With these remarks I commend this report to the Council of Ministers, Members of Parliament and the people of Vanuatu for their consideration and action.
Honorable Joe Natuman MP Minister for Internal Affairs
Executive Summary Decentralization in Vanuatu is linked to the nations’ unique colonial history. The analysis of international and regional Decentralization processes reveals no specific model that can be adopted for Vanuatu, however, there is a general belief that Decentralization brings government closer to the people. In its mandate, the Decentralization Review Commission (DRC) undertook extensive consultations and research and has identified that the current Decentralization system in Vanuatu is expensive, inefficient, non-representative and is not delivering services to the grassroots people as expected.
DRC has made specific recommendations for the inclusion of women in the decision making process; Chiefs to be in charge of the Area Councils; Youth and Church organisations to be properly structured and represented, and the Business community and Community Development Councils to be represented in the proposed Decentralization system.
Recommendations for amendments of the Decentralization and Municipalities Acts and of other relevant legislation are made throughout the DRC Report. In order to free up more funds for development, DRC has recommended a reduction in the number of Councilors and meetings and the amount of monthly and sitting allowances. An equitable formula for distributing grants is also recommended. To allow for grassroots participation in decentralized Government, DRC has recommended that Area and Ward Councils should be introduced and empowered with some authority to generate and expend funds at that level, and that elections should be based on a ‘Closed Ward’ system.
DRC has recommended improvements to the Provincial administration by recommending a Decentralized, prefectoral and functional structure for the Provinces and a Decentralized with a lower tier and the Department of Provincial Authority overseeing structure for the Municipalities. DRC has also made recommendations for improving the relationship between the Provincial Councils and Central Government Departments based in the Provinces.
Further DRC has recommended that the recruitment of staff for local authorities must be on merit and by independent panels.
Although it was not in DRC’s Terms of Reference to undertake a complete review of the current system of governance, there was a general belief that a comprehensive overhaul of the current system and the design of a completely new system would have been preferable.
DRC was asked by the people of Vanuatu to recommend to Central Government that the same review that has taken place of Municipal, Provincial and Area Councils should be undertaken for Parliament itself. There was considerable concern about allowances of Members of Parliament and how MPs are not supporting the people with their allocations. In addition, many people complained they had never seen their MP or Councilor except during elections. If the allowances are to be decreased for politicians at the lower level then the same decrease should be considered for allowances of national politicians. DRC concludes that most of the bottlenecks and difficulties of Decentralization and service delivery are directly related to the Central Government power play and its inequitable distribution of resources.
DRC believes that there should be an implementation mechanism in place to monitor those of its recommendations that the Government accepts.
This Report documents the views of the people, who are now waiting patiently to hear how their national leaders will respond to their views and comments.
ContentsLetter of Transmittal to Minister
1 Background to the Review
1.1 Terms of Reference
1.2 Objectives and Scope of DRC
1.3 Work Plan
1.6 Structure of the DRC Report
2.1 Geographical and Social Analysis
2.2 Gender Analysis
2.3 Political Analysis
2.4.1 Political Decentralization
2.4.2 Administrative Decentralization
2.4.3 Rationale for Decentralization
2.5 International Perspective
2.6 Regional Perspective
2.6.1 Papua New Guinea
2.6.2 Solomon Islands
2.7 Historical Background to Decentralization in Vanuatu
2.7.1 Pre- Independence
2.7.2 1980 Local Government Committee