Manager Decentralisation in the Department of Local Authorities, Ben Tabi says the Decentralisation Plan will involve all 18 Area Councils in the country.
He says community consultation in the decentralisation process started last year involving chiefs, members of the Malvatumauri and community leaders and closed with a national consultation session hosted by the Chairman of the Malvatumauri in the Chiefs Nakamal towards the end of 2017.
“At the time, we invited all members of the Malvatumauri to be part of it and the policy documents which derived from the session won’t be ruled out and are part of the current work in progress called Establishment Phase of Decentralisation,” he says.
“What it means in the first 18 Area Councils being set up is that we want to make sure that all offices exist and the lands on which the offices are located are secured, landowners provide the land for free for public use and to equip the offices with trained manpower.
“These posts have been advertised in the media last week for recruitments for the posts. All relevant sectors are involved and the Malvatumauri is one of them”.
A classic example of Malvatumauri involvement is that currently, many Area Councils in the Provinces are submitting the names of their applicants to become members of their Area Councils.
The names will be sent to the Department of Local Authorities in Port Vila for endorsement by the Minister of Internal Affairs for gazetting. Once gazetted, the people become members of the Area Council.
“In the past communities submitted the names but now we want to hand that responsibility over to the chiefs at each Area Council to handpick the suitable applicants to become Chairman of each Area Council,” he confirms.
In fact the Decentralisation Act CAP 230 states, “The Chairman of an Area Council is a representative of the chiefs in the Area”.
The Manager Decentralisation says his Office feels it is important that the name being endorsed by the Minster for the post of Chairman of Area Council is selected by the chiefs.
He says at the end of the day both Department of Local Authorities and chiefs must work together in the process, to ensure the latest Area Council Structure confirms the interest of all stakeholders.
The Manager says all line Ministries in the Government are part of the Decentralisation process. It means all sectors including the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs and their structures that go right down to Village Area Council of Chiefs are part of the Plan.