Will the Draft Federal Constitution ever see the light of day?

By Gary Hatigeva

IN Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela proposed with doubt the government’s hopes to introduce the Draft Bill on the Federal Constitution in the next set of Parliament sittings around June or July this year.

The Prime Minister revealed this when responding to the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Matthew Wale who questioned the Hou-led government over its policy regarding the status of the draft.

The Aoke/Langalanga MP also asked if the draft bill is ready, and when parliament will expect to receive the much talked about document.

Island Sun understands that the former government under Manasseh Sogavare’s leadership was very instrumental in driving the draft federal constitution in its initial stage.

The Democratic Coalition for Change Government in its heavy involvement also put in a lot of resources including funds to see the proposal is realised and preparations with hopes to bring it to parliament this year, but the leader was ousted before it was finalised.

However when questioned, Prime Minister Hou explained that his government chose to adopt the former government’s policy framework on what is being said to be a key area and has also taken the initiative to recommit full resources into its near final stage.

He then outlined that work on the draft have completed but only awaits final work on its structure and costing.

He said following the change in government, most work and personnel involved also left and they are in the process of engaging specialists to work on finalising the costs and financials involving components and stages in the process of finalising the document.

He added that there were some setbacks in the technical areas and works on the draft as the important person in-charge had passed away, living a gap for the government to fill up and the government is currently searching for experts to fill the gap, to see that these segment of the document is also finalised.

He further added that there are other small areas in the draft that need thorough attention and his government is working to see that they are fulfilled.

This includes final editing of the document, which involves amendments and corrections to be made on where necessary.

Hou then stressed that while it is also the government’s strong conviction and eagerness to see that the draft federal constitution sees the lights of parliament before the 10th parliament is dissolved, the timing and progress of the document to meet deadline is outside of his control.

He can only hope that those involved and set to be part of the finalization can see the urgency of it (draft federal constitution) to be completed.

The PM’s response on time and progress control over the proposal received mix reactions from members of the opposition and independent groups who felt the Prime Minister is not being true to what he said about the urgency of the draft.

They also suggested that the Prime Minister is not doing enough to ensure works into the draft federal constitution resumed to allow for the final stages to be completed.

Independent MP and Chairman of the Bills and Legislative Committee (BLC), Matthew Wale pointed out and suggested that it is sad programmes and components involved in the draft bill is costing the country a lot of money and yet the Prime Minister turned to ignore all these and seemed not to have control over its progression.

Because so much have already being pumped into its initiation up to where it is now, taking up so much from the last three major government budgets, Wale suggested that the Prime Minister re-strategise and ensure he has full control over the flow of work into the proposal, at the same time put more emphasis on those involved to ensure tax payers’ money being poured into it for the last three years are not wasted.

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