by Delly Bagu – EM TV, Port Moresby
Parliament today voted 66-18 in favour of a new bill; the District Development Authorities Bill 2014.
Although the bill had majority support, a number of provincial governors expressed concern that it would take away the powers of governors.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the new authority is not a legislative arm of government; however, its role is to assist in bringing more services to the districts.
District development authorities will replace the current Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committees (JDPBPCs) have outgrown themselves with the district development authorities.
In February, parliament passed an amendment to the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local Level Governments, which abolished JDPBPCs and created a new statutory authority in each district called the District Development Authority.
The Prime Minister said the new bill provides details of the operations of the new District Development Authorities. There will be one established in each district.
Mr O’Neill said an important change is the increase in accountability. The authority will be required to submit a budget to the treasurer and quarterly reports to the provincial government.
Mr O’Neill stressed that the new bill is not a legislative arm of government and has no legislative powers to pass any laws whatsoever. He assured that as a responsible government, funds going to the districts will be managed in the interest of our people.