The 6th Premiers Conference ended in colourful style in Kira Kira on 26th October 2012 after one week of intensive discussions of high level policy issues affecting service delivery by the nine Provincial Premiers and the Mayor of the Honiara City Council.
This year's conference was based on the theme, “together we strive for sustainable, cost effective and efficient service delivery”.
The Prime Minister, Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, formally opened the 6th Premiers conference with a speech in which he encouraged Provincial Premiers to continue their hard work for better service delivery. He assured the Premiers of his governments continued support to improve service delivery as prescribed in the theme of the conference. He indicated that the economic growth centre concept and the constituency development funds are designed to promote economic growth and at the same time ensure that the benefit of economic development reach the ordinary people at the community level.
The greatest highlight of the conference was the focus on rural constituency development funds. The message by the Premiers on how they see the gradual institutionalization of RCDF and CDFs was characterized in the opening speech of the host Premier, Hon. Thomas Weape (MPA). He advised the government to reconsider the decision of channelling more funds through the constituencies instead of through the provincial government system. The Makira Premier expressed concerns over the role of MPs as a legislative oversight institution and their new role as project managers. The Premier raised a question as to whether MPs can take on the role of the executive branch of the government in spending whilst at the same time retain their key role as an oversight institution and scrutinizing their own spending.
The Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, Hon. Silas V. Tausinga, assured the Provincial Premiers of his ministry's continuous support to the course of service delivery as prescribed in the theme of the conference. He expressed hopes that the government would further clarify the roles of the provincial governments in service delivery so that it is clear who is responsible for what in delivering services at the provincial level.
The conference has been described as a great success for PGSP as Hon. Premiers show their full support for the next phase of the programme. The Premiers unanimously asked the National Government to seek funding for PGSP II. Each Premier described the project phase II as relevant to the people of Solomon Islands. They appreciate the fact that the project is building the capacity of the provincial governments whilst at the same time providing funding for small scale infrastructures at the provincial level.
Even though some of the provinces still have difficulties in meeting the required minimum conditions, they feel that extensive progress has been made and that the programme's continuity is in the best interest of the provinces.
The first day of the conference started off with the dedication of the chamber and the handing over of the key to the Speaker of Makira/Ulawa Provincial Assembly by the Head of Premiers conference delegation, Hon. George Solingi Lilo, Premier of Western Province.
The host province had its own unique style of preparation for this very important event which was evident by the way the host Premier received his colleague Premiers on their arrival. Premiers were greeted in style with very colourful displays and entertainments on their arrival at the airport.
Throughout the conference duration, participants were entertained by different groups of entertainers from all over the province. Every dinner was accompanied by music and interesting traditional songs symbolising the cultural heritage of the people of Makira Ulawa. The variety of entertainments indicates a diversity of cultures which makes Makira Ulawa unique in terms of richness in culture. Observing the organisational style and varieties of entertainers, one could easily agree that there is unity in diversity in the province which made it easier for such a conference to be organised with relative ease and professionalism.
As traditional to every conference, the host province ensures that each participant goes back with a gift as a token of appreciation. This again symbolises the generosity of the people of Makira Ulawa. Presents for the Provincial Premiers, the Mayor of Honiara City Council and other delegates were shipped to Honiara ahead of participants by the conference local organising committee.
The Provincial Premiers and the Mayor of Honiara City Council agreed on 13 resolutions which formed part of Kira Kira Communique 2012. The communiqué shall be delivered to the Cabinet by Hon. Silas V. Tausinga, Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening.
What was unique about this year's conference was the allocation of time for the delegation to visit other parts of the province of Makira Ulawa apart from the provincial capital to see how communities live and also to make them feel that they were part and parcel of the 6th Premiers conference.
The Premiers with other delegation visited Pamua and Waimapuru and spent over two hours in each location to discuss with the communities. They were welcomed by the headmasters of each of the schools with songs and cultural dances by students with varieties of entertainments even more colourful than the ones that accorded the Premiers in Kira kira.
In Pamua and Waimapuru, Premiers and the Mayor of Honiara City Council responded generously by pledging cash donations to the school administration. The donation from the Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening was announced by Mr. Stanley D. Pirione, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.
The head masters of both schools and the students were amazed by the generosity of their visiting Premiers. They thanked the Premiers for their kind gestures and pledged to use the money on the development of the school. The conference ended with everyone expressing thanks to the host Premier and his team for the kind hospitality that accorded them. The actual success of the conference shall, however, be gauged by the endorsement conference communiqué and the implementation of its various resolutions as agreed and signed by the Premiers and the Mayor of Honiara City Council. We are yet to see how the intended outcomes of the conference shall be achieved after the communiqué has been endorsed by the Cabinet.