BY BEN BILUA
The Western province has hit out at the national government describing it as bullying provincial governments with its decisions and actions.
Provincial Member for Dunde Nusa Roviana Ward, Ramrakha Talasasa made the comment during Assembly meeting yesterday.
He said provincial governments suffer and fall short to achieve development goals due to national government’s policy and decisions.
Talasasa said the decision of the national government to slice the budget of Western Province which was passed as required by the Provincial Government Act is a breach in the eyes of the law.
He stressed that the national government failed to honour its promise and should be penalised as normally done to provincial governments.
“We have passed our budget as required by the Provincial Act but the government is unable to give the fund. They slice our allocations which is questionable.
“Furthermore, they have established numbers of requirements that provincial governments must satisfy before getting funds.
“When provinces failed to perform, the national government penalised us. So it is reasonable to say that, when the national government failed to give us the complete fund as we requested on our budget, they should be penalised as well,” Talasasa said.
Premier of Western Province, David Gina shares similar sentiment saying that the provincial governments have now become more or less mere divisions of the Ministry of Provincial Government rather than a legitimate elected government as provided for in the Provincial Government Act 1997.
He said the system has become more and more centralised with the various leverages placed on provincial governments to perform or be penalized.
“I must admit that last year has been a very challenging year for us.
“We just passed our 2020-2021 budget in the Assembly when SIG announced the various budget control measures it will employ as a means to catering for its COVID-19 preparedness and response effort and also in anticipation of the likely negative economic impacts that will ensue.
“As a province and as a government we have also been severely affected,” Gina added.