28 Aug 2007

Solomon Islands Choiseul premier calls for constitutional change

7:06 pm on 28 August 2007

The premier of Choiseul province in Solomon Islands says it's time to devolve more power from the national government in Honiara to people in the provinces.

Jackson Kiloe says there is a need for change because customary owners of natural resources benefit very little from their forests or fisheries.

He says most of the income ends up in the hands of the investors and the national government while very little trickles back down to the provinces.

Mr Kiloe says Choiseul will present a submission to the constitutional congress for greater decision making to be vested in the provinces.

"The only power under our current laws that provincial governments are allowed to collect revenue are from business licenses and rates, that's all. Very few provinces can actually survive with those. We think that we have contributed enough resources to the national purse and if we can utilise the resources being derived from our provinces, we can stand on our own two feet and make our own decisions."

Mr Kiloe says a meeting of provincial premiers is to be held next month on the issue.