Tuesday, 29 September, 2020.
The National Government’s outstanding commitments to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville such as revenue generating powers and shares in the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) will be eventually transferred to the ABG Government and landowners.
Prime Minister James Marape made these remarks in Buka when he brought his delegation from Waigani to witness the swearing in of the President elect of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Ishmael Toroama and all other elected leaders of their ABG House of Representatives.
He assured the people of Bougainville that his government would work closely with President Toroama and that outstanding commitments will be honoured.
“I am a Prime Minister who believes in empowerment of Government and leaders closest to our people, and Bougainville people are special and peculiar in respect to their long blood shed history.
“My going to Bougainville with senior political and bureaucratic leadership from Waigani with resident Heads of Foreign Missions, is a positive signal that we care for Bougainville.
“I was waiting for the election process to complete so I can ramp up my personal and also whole of government support to Bougainville. I have committed to handling Bougainville to the best of my ability, immediately empowering Bougainville when it comes to resource harvest.
“This will enable my version of economic independence for Bougainville as an important precursor to the next phase of 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, and that is dealing with the results of the referendum when 97.7 % voted for political independence,’’ Prime Minister Marape said.
Prime Minister Marape also announced several commitments to Bougainville which include
- Full transfer of BCL shares to Bougainville Government and landowners;
- Full transfer of all revenue raising powers to Bougainville including mining, fisheries, forestry and agriculture;
- SME empowerment for Bougainville with 10% of SME funds be channeled to Bougainville;
- Restoration of all of outstanding National Government commitments since 2001, including clearing legacies;
- Having a ‘one line’ budget allocation where Bougainville is not reporting to Waigani Public Service but to National Parliament in as far as budgeting or public service expenditure and service delivery is concern;
- Full transfer of all public service functions including revenue generation back to Bougainville; and
- Allow for Bougainville to interface with other bilateral and multilateral partners within the ambit of our country’s foreign policy, and this includes National Government’s support for development offices to be established in Bougainville are amongst the commitments
The commitments are part of the National Government’s significant steps to take as both governments work to progress the next phase of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“It has been a long road to the restoration and maintenance of peace and searching for prosperity for Bougainville and PNG. And I am fully committed to working with the President elect, Hon Ishmael Toroama in finding a path that is truly a blessing for both PNG and Bougainville.”
“I look forward to President Toroama appointing his cabinet and for our first meeting formally in the first Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting, where we can carve out the next phase in accordance to the spirit and intent of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.”
Mr Marape and his delegation also visited Buka ring road sealing plus Kokopau to Arawa road sealing which the national government is currently funding.
A restoration grant of K15 million was also presented to the Autonomous Bougainville Government