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UCLG COUNTRY PROFILES Kiribati

Capital: Tarawa Population: 92,533 Area: 726 km2

1. Introduction

Kiribati is an island nation, also called ‘a nation of water’, located in the Central Pacific, made up of 32 low lying atolls and 1 raised coral atoll. The islands are spread over an ocean area of over 3.5 millions square kilometers, with a total land area of 849 sq km. Kiribati is divided into three main island groups; the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands. The majority of the population lives in the Gilbert chain. Kiribati is a unitary republic with a unicarmeral parliament. The Head of state and government is the president (Beretitenti) who is elected following nominations of the three candidates, from amongst the Members of Parliament (MPs). The President appoints a vice-president, an attorney general, and up to ten more MPs to make up the cabinet. Parliament is known as the House of Assembly (Maneaba

ni Maungatabu) and comprises 40 elected members, one ex-officio member (the attorney general) and one nominated member from the Banaban Community in Rabi, Fiji Islands. Each Member of Parliament is elected through a first-pastthe-post system and represents a single consitituency. The 2005 census determined that the total population was 92,533. This is a increase of 9.5 per cent or 8,039 persons compared the population in 2000, which represents an average annual rate of growth of 1.8 per cent. The majority of Kiribati’s population lives in the Gilbert Islands group (90% in 2005, a decrease from almost 96% in 1985). The proportion of the total population living in the Line & Phoenix Group has been increasing since 1985 (when it was 4.2%) to its current percentage of close to 10. In 2005 almost 44 per cent of the population

of Kiribati lived in South Tarawa (population 40,311) which has been steadily growing since the 1990 when the population was 25,380. According to the 2005 census data, the average population density of the total population of Kiribati was 127 persons per square kilometre. However the population density varies


COUNTY PROFILE: KIRIBATI

 

 

widely by island Gilbert Group has per km2 in, the Islands only have inhabited.

(group), while the almost 300 people Line and Phoenix 20 people per km2

growth rate of about 7%. Kiritimati is considered to be the world largest atoll comprising over 70% of the total land area of Kiribati.

3. Local Democracy 2. Territorial Organisation Local Government was introduced in Kiribati with the establishment of 19 councils in the 1960s and more recently, in the 1990s, with the creation of 4 additional island councils. The primary division in local government is between rural and urban councils. Both are single-tiered. The urban councils are referred to as town councils and the rural councils as island councils. Both have the same legal standing but their individual responsibilities vary according to those granted to them at the time of establishment. There are three town (urban councils) and 20 island councils. There are three Urban Councils; the Betio Town Council (BTC), Teinaninano Urban Council (TUC), and Kiritimati Urban Council (KUC). BTC and TUC are on South Tarawa in the Gilbert group, which is the Government administrative centre and the Capital of Kiribati. South Tarawa is the most densely populated atoll in Kiribati with its islet of Betio, which falls under the administrative jurisdiction of the Betio Town Council (BTC), being the most densely populated area in the world. The remaining part of South Tarawa falls under the Teinainano Urban Council (TUC). Kiritimati Urban Council’s (KUC) jurisdiction is within Kiritimati atoll in the Line group, which is located about 3,300km east of the Gilbert group. Kiritimati is the second most populated island with an annual population

Local Government in Kiribati falls under the portfolio of the Minister of Internal and Social Affairs (MISA) and as part of the Ministry is a Division of Local Government headed by the Director of Local Government. The national policies relating to local government is therefore determined by Central Government through the MISA. Local Government is embodied by island and urban councils. With the amendment of the Local Government Act in 2006, the Chief Councillors were re-titled Mayors, and instead of being elected by their fellow councillors they are now elected by popular vote for a four year mandate. Councillors are elected according to who is first past the post on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The council also includes the members of the Parliament, the Maneaba ni Maungatabu, who represent the area of ex officio capacity, and coopted members. However, the number of ex officio and co-opted members may not exceed one-third of the elected members. The leader of the council is the mayor and elected by registered voters on the island. The democratic system is uniform across the country. The decision-making process is as follows; selected committees deliberate and make recommendations to the full council which takes the final decision. II


COUNTY PROFILE: KIRIBATI

 

 

4. Supervision by Central Government In Kiribati, local government is enshrined in the 1979 constitution but effectively governed by the Local Government Act, first passed in 1984 and revised in 2006. Over the past decades there has been gradual devolution of powers with the aim of engaging and empowering people at the local level to take charge of their own development. Changes include election of the chief councillor by all the island population, but not from amongst newly elected councillors. In reality however, functions are shared between central and local government and central government retains oversight responsibility. For example, the powers of the Minister set out in the Local Government Ordinance 1966 and the Local Government Act 2006 provide for oversight of local government policy, assisting local councils in drafting by-laws, undertaking internal audits, and compiling final accounts for the Auditor General’s scrutiny. In recent years there has only been one case in which the minister intervened and suspended a council due to corruption/abuse of office.

5. Local Government responsibilities Local governments are responsible for the provision for many local services, specifically including: fire protection, early childhood education (kindergarten and primary school), town planning, water and sanitation, waste collection, roads and local transport, and primary health care. Many responsibilities are shared between central

and local government, where the local government manages the activities and central government provides the funding.

6. Local Finance In Kiribati there is no set policy regarding revenue-sharing between central and local government: transfer payments are made to ensure individual authority budgets are balanced. Certain percentages are reserved for specific activities such as the maintenance of roads and causeways, offices, school buildings, hospitals, and housing for government-seconded staff. Central government pays the full salary of seconded staff and contributes substantially towards the salaries and wages of council staff. Assistance is also given for office stationery and provision of ferries between main islands and islets that cannot be accessed by road. The minister retains the power to approve or reject local authority budgets. Local government budgets and per capita expenditure Local Government

Population (2005)

Annual Budget 2009 (AUD $)

Expenditure per capita 2009 (AUD $)

Makin

2385

103408

43.36

Butaritari

3280

158934

48.46

Marakei

2741

130521

47.62

Abaiang

5502

200661

36.47

North Tarawa (rural)

5678

213312

37.57

Betio Town Council (urban)

12507

533017

42.61

Teinainano Urban Council

27808

701718

25.23

Maiana

1908

144028

75.49

Abemama

3404

230273

67.65

Kuria

1082

70700

65.34

III


COUNTY PROFILE: KIRIBATI

 

  Aranuka

1158

159096

137.39

Nonouti

3179

193865

60.98

Tabiteuea North

3600

187087

51.97

Tabiteuea South

1298

113782

87.66

Beru

2169

131225

60.50

Nikunau

1912

111473

58.30

Onotoa

1644

132022

80.31

Tamana

875

77743

88.85

Arorae

1256

116430

92.70

Banaba

301

85715

284.77

Tabuaeran

2539

240686

94.80

Teraina

1155

116811

101.14

Kiritimati (urban)

5119

118543

23.18

which is to be reflected in their annual budget and their By-Laws. The sources of revenue and expenditure are often raised questions since people mostly finance the operating budget. At most times the service delivery of local governments fails to respond to citizen's needs and demands. _____________________________ Sources: 1.

UNDP Decentralisation and Local Governance practice area <http://www.undp.org/governance/sldlgud.htm> and Practice Note <http://www.undp.org/governance/docs/DL GUD_PN_English.pdf>

2.

Bureau of statistics

3.

Commonwealth Local Government Forum 2007, Commonwealth Local Government Handbook 2011/12

4.

Hassall, G.; Tipu, F. 2008. ‘Local Government in the South Pacific Islands’

5.

Kiribati census 2005 www.spc.int/prism

7. Citizen participation

The presence of a formal state in local affairs is a relatively new phenomenon in Kiribati (Hassall and Tipu 2008). Local communities view traditional leaders and mechanisms as the most legitimate and effective institutions for representing their interests and meeting their needs. The modern local governance institutions were established during or directly after the colonial era, with little regard for how they would integrate with pre-existing institutions. In Kiribati’s outer islands, the Unimwane, or council of elders, continues to exercise considerable influence despite not being recognised under the Local Government Act. The Unimwane is a key pillar of an egalitarian culture that helps ensure that absolute poverty is virtually unknown in Kiribati (Asian Development Bank 2007) The local Government Budget invites community participation to deliberate on their Plan that involves service delivery

IV


Kiribati  

Kiribati country profile

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