By Gary Hatigeva
PREMIER of Malaita Province, Peter Ramohia is optimistic that having a law such as the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation is the way forward to help the country deal with issues related to customary matters that are deemed a part of the stumbling blocks to development progress of national projects.
Speaking on behalf of the Malaita Provincial Executive, Premier Ramohia noted the Bill should be an added bonus or mechanism for the country, particularly the province to deal with what he termed as, the ever pressing issue that continued to hold back developments and major projects, most of which are to do with customary lands and people.
The Traditional Governance Bill is not a new concept to the Province as it has already been widely captured in a model they have created for the province that looks to address the issues of customary lands, being one of their key fundamentals to pave the way for development forward.
In an interview yesterday, Ramohia outlined that since taking office in 2015, his government came up with three key fundamental areas that they insisted to be the way forward, especially in the area of traditional and customary matters, and they are ‘People, Security and Sustainability’.
He explained that in the area of Sustainability, it is where the Good Governance Bill is captured, and Security is where the Land Reform Bill plays a vital aspect, where as in the fundamental of People is where the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill is highlighted.
He said with the proper alignment of these pillars, the country can experience the strongest traditional and customary structural system in the region that should see the realisation of developments in a society that over 80 percent of its lands is customary.
“We see this Bill as a solution approach,” Premier Ramohia shared.
The Malaita Provincial delegate also shared that the bill gives hope for the formalisation of people’s traditional and customary identities, and not become foreigners in their own lands.
The Premier, who appeared along with Sir Nathanial Waena before the Bills and Legislations Committee yesterday, when questioned on the view of withdrawal that was highlighted, stressed it is a matter that depends on the pending consultations and the Members of Parliament.
However, like a few other recommendations that were made on the bill, the Malaita Premier had also suggested for a change in the name of the National Council of Chiefs, to the Solomon Islands Affairs Board, and calls for an inclusion of a Strategic Fundamental Committee.
This committee according to the Premier and his team will play the in-depth scoping of consultation and take care of the issues people have been talking about in relation to the Bill.
With strong emphasis and intentions to develop and set a benchmark to deal with the issue surrounding the Traditional and Customary Structure having been connected with successful developments, the Provincial Executive through its responsible personals and members, held a visit to Fiji early this year for a learning exchange tour.
This according to the Premier was for the team of experts and provincial representatives, to learn from how they are able to make their Traditional and Custom systems work and how their they are able to deal with matters related to their fundamental principles and policies.