At a multi Government agency meeting hosted by the Public Service Commission, held Thursday 15th February to discuss the status of Government initiatives on decentralisation of services to the provinces, significant practical steps were agreed to support on-going upper level consultations being undertaken aby the Decentralisation Working Group. The meeting endorsed building the capacity of the offices of the Secretary Generals (SGs) with additional expertise to support Area Councils as a key focus through the establishment, resourcing and training of the SG’s Corporate Services Unit (CSU). In conjunction, the meeting agreed to a 12-month trial of devolution of programs, staff and resources from two Ministries critical to the economic empowerment and improved services delivery – the Ministry of Finance & Economic Management (MFEM) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests, Fisheries & Bio-Security (MALFFB).

Cherol Ala, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office stating “We have talked enough it’s time for action! We need to be more aggressive to make decentralised structures work.’ The time for talking is over, It’s time for action.”

Meeting participants noted that the provinces are the engine room for the growth of the Vanuatu economy. The choice of these two Ministries in the trial reflects their mandate, their bottom-up activities and potential, especially through the Area Councils involvement in decision making and implementation of projects.

Martin Mahe, Chairman of the Public Service Commission concluded: “This is not a small action we are initiating but with our joint commitment we can now take a big step forward to putting into operation the Decentralisation Summit recommendations for achieving the Vanuatu Government’s decentralisation vision.”