Under the amendments Members of Parliament for Lae and Kokopo Open Electorates are automatically Chairman’s of their respective City Authority Boards.
Parliamentarians of Open Electorates lose the Chairmanship to a elected Local Level Government President by virtue of Section 12 (4) of the City Authority Act when they became Ministers in the National Government.
In a statement, Prime Minister, James Marape, said Members for Lae and Kokopo Open Electorates did not sit on the respective City Authority Boards, and as a result there is perceived inconsistency in leadership direction, vision, planning and budgeting in the city authorities.
“Respective City Authority Boards cannot meet to discuss and provide direction, plan and approve budgets because if they do, the decisions can be subject to legal challenge. Occurrences of administrative and governance issues and challenges are prevalent in Kokopo and Lae City Authorities,” he said.
“Section 12 (4) of the City Authority Act 2015 for Lae and Kokopo outright denies the elected members to make decisions for their constituents in the electorates and their Authorities do not get their mandates and objectives implemented after four years of establishing the city authorities, while their sister city, Mt Hagen, is in full swing.”
A precedent was set in the Mt Hagen City Authority when similar amendments were made that saw Member for Mt Hagen Open continue his membership as Chairman of the Board, even though he occupied a Ministerial portfolio.
“Therefore, the Lae and Kokopo City Authority Amendment Bills as amended must be tabled in Parliament for passage to enable the respective Members of Parliament to continue their membership on the City Authority Boards,” Prime Minister Marape said.
The Lae and Kokopo City Authority Boards need to be properly constituted to ensure financial decisions they make are not rendered illegal.
To date, the only City Authority fully operating on approved organizational structure is the Mt Hagen City Authority. This was achieved in a timely manner due to no disruptions to the composition of Mt Hagen City Authority Board.
Prime Minister Marape said amendment of the two Acts of Parliament will ensure the Acts are consistent with the Mt Hagen City Authority Act 2015 and the District Development Authority Act 2014.
“These amendments must take effect retrospective to the commencement of Lae and Kokopo City Authority Acts 2015. This is to ensure all decisions of the respective City Authority Boards will be legally binding and enforceable.
“That is because City Authorities were created as governance mechanisms to mobilize resources for subnational governments and districts for targeted sectoral economic growth in the three regions of the country,” said Prime Minister Marape.