17 new constituencies

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Government to review constituency boundaries


By Alfred Sasako

THE Government is likely to increase the number of constituencies in the country to 67 – an increase of 17 new seats recommended by the last Constituency Boundaries Commission 11 years ago.

The Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) announced in its First 100 Days in Office Policy Priority Document that it is reviewing the Constituency Boundaries Commission.

Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet would oversee the review, which encompasses the appointments of Constituency Boundaries Commissioners [CBC] who will take views from the people on whether to maintain the number of Constituencies at the current level of 50 or to increase the number.

The last review was undertaken more than 11 years ago. Its report, presented to then Minister of Home Affairs, James Tora, in February 2010, recommended an additional 17 new Constituencies be added to the current 50 constituencies.

Of this, Malaita was to get four, Guadalcanal and Western Provinces three each.

All the other provinces including Honiara will each get an additional constituency, according to the report, which has been gathering dust since February 2010.

Secretary of the Commission, the late John Babalu defended the Commission’s decision to recommend an additional constituency for Renbel province despite it not meeting the criteria on population.

Mr Babalu said then the Commission based its decision on other criteria which includes language and the Province’s relative isolation.

The nation’s population has since grown by almost a third or 200 thousand people, putting a lot more pressure on available of services. But whether increasing the number of constituencies would make a difference, remains to be seen.

In the meantime the Government has made it clear that it wants to see the review of the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the appointments of its commissioners completed within its First 100 Days in Office.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told a news conference last Friday the Government had 60 days left in which to complete a range of programs identified across sectors and published in its First 100 days in Office Policy Priority Document.

Critics say completing many of the programs identified in the Document remains in doubt.