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By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 31, 2008) - Five new ministries will be created under the reform process currently being undertaken, and that will cost the National Government an additional PGK2 to PGK3 million [US$738,000 to US$1 million] annually. Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare indicated this yesterday, saying that cabinet size will increase by five.

The NEC meeting yesterday would be giving its blessing for the five new ministries that would increase cabinet membership from 28 to 33 cabinet ministers. Government insiders said NEC was to give its approval and it would go before Parliament for constitutional amendments to be made.

Sources said the approval of the five new ministries would be announced but remained under the current ministers who would be caretakers until legislative changes were done and approved by Parliament.

Sir Michael said other reforms underway included the public sector reform, foreign policy review, telecommunication, review of the three-tier government structure, legislative reform to generate participation of small contractors in the anticipated reform at the district level resulting from funding injection in the current budgets, and more.

The NEC meeting is understood to have deliberated on the reforms with the intention of approval and implementation.

Sir Michael, speaking at the dedication service of the NEC at the State Function Room at Parliament House, said with the current political stability, the NEC was in a stronger position to plan reforms in the next five years and beyond.

"The NEC has commenced by reforming itself. It has decided to increase its membership by five," he said.

Sir Michael said NEC had also reformed its decision making process to allow for efficient conduct of its business, and for the making of informed decisions.

"It has established a system of committees consisting of the National Planning Committee (NPC) and sectoral committees."

He said the NPC was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and comprised senior ministers and heads of political parties of the current coalition government.

He said these committees were linked to sectoral committees at the bureaucratic level.

"What is still to be determined is a mechanism to link the NEC and committees with the provincial executive councils (PEC) and/or committees of the PEC."

Sir Michael said that link would be exciting because proper reform and planning could not be possible without whole of the government approach.

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