By MALUM NALU
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the nine vice-ministers appointed yesterday will be given “specific responsibilities” apart from assisting their line ministers.
The nine vice-ministers are Jimi MP Wake Goi, Kagua-Erave MP Wesley Raminai, Kerowagi MP Bari Palma, Tambul-Nebilyer MP Win Daki, Ambunti-Dreikikir MP Johnson Wapunai, Komo-Margarima MP Manasseh Makiba, Lagaip-Porgera MP Tomait Kapili, Goroka MP Henry Ame and Anglimp-South Wahgi MP Joe Koim. Two more will be named later.
Their specific portfolios will be announced once the appointments are gazetted. But O’Neill has already picked Raminai to assist him as vice-Minister for Sports and Apec.
Henganofi MP and former Police Minister Robert Atiyafa was appointed chairman of the Constitutional and Law Reform Commission.
The nine and Atiyafa were sworn in at Government House yesterday by Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae witnessed by O’Neill, Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel, senior ministers, friends and relatives.
“Vice-ministers are very important in our structure of government,” O’Neill said.
“They are going to assist the ministers, but more so, they will have specific responsibilities.
“Unlike in the past, we are going to give each vice-minister a specific responsibility over an organisation, or over a government institution, which they will take charge of and manage.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the vice-ministers in our Government, because it is certainly going to continue to enhance the work we are trying to do for our country, and the challenges we face. We will meet those challenges together as a team.”
O’Neill said Atiyafa’s responsibility as CLRC chairman was equivalent to a minister.
“As you know, he was a former minister, and this is ministerial status work. I have specifically appointed him because of his experience. He has got huge experience in the provincial government system as former (Eastern Highlands) premier and as minister and member of the national parliament,” he said.
“He brings with him a unique set of skills that is going to attend to the reforms that our country and our people have been demanding, particularly reforms such as the electoral reforms.
“He is going to take carriage of it with the Constitutional Law Reform Office.”
O’Neill plans to get experienced leaders from both sides of the house involved in the much-needed reforms.
Meanwhile, O’Neill said he was no newcomer to sports in his capacity as Minister for Sports and APEC.
He said he had been involved in fixing rundown sporting facilities around the country, and the 2015 Pacific Games.
“With that experience, and with the vice-minister (Raminai), you can rest assured that sports will be one of the top priorities of the government as we’ve done over the past five years,” he said.