II. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
H. Departmental divisions with specific environmental responsibilities
To date, only two government establishments have set up a division or unit charged specifically with responsibility for the environment: the Environmental Planning Section of the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Natural Resources, and Environmental Health Services within the Public Health and Primary Health Care Division of the Ministry of Health.
The Environmental Planning Section is discussed at length elsewhere in this report, but the Environmental Health Services of the Ministry of Health are less well known although they have been in existence for two decades. That existence reflects the long-standing recognition by the Ministry of Health of the importance of the environment, and the critical need for the establishment of a specific unit, properly and appropriately equipped and staffed to deal with environmental concerns.
The Environmental Health Services section is one of several functional sections of the Public Health and Primary Health Care Division, the other sections being Health Education, Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning, Communicable Diseases Control and Non-Communicable Diseases Control. The Environmental Health Services section is responsible for the inspection of water-toilet facilities, premises and imported goods, the registration of establishing food handlers, such as butcher's shops etc., the approval of building plans as well as garbage collection (Ministry of Health, 1995).
But the environmental units of both ministries suffer from inadequate staffing, and a lack of proper equipment and financial resources. A similar problem is faced by some other government establishments, such as the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which are keen to set up their own environmental units.
In general, the Environmental Planning Section and the Central Planning Department are the offices to which government agencies, NGOs, the public, donor agencies, and regional and international organizations direct their enquiries and requests for technical advice, assistance and guidance regarding environmental matters. The two establishments provide in-house assistance, if available, or seek assistance from regional and international organizations such as SPREP, ESCAP and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
It is clear that the involvement of the Environmental Planning Section in economic policy matters only extends to project proposals, and even then only because of donor requirements for an EIA. That involvement is by way of representation (co-opted) on DCC or another development committee, and via EIAs required for selected project proposals. Discussions with Environmental Planning Section officials revealed that environmental advice was not sought by the Ministry of Finance in the formulation of fiscal policy, nor by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga (1994) with regard to monetary policy.