Due to the high demand of people wanting information about the outcome of the high level government meeting between the ABG and PNG National Government, .Here is the speech by the ABG President Chief Dr John Momis in his opening remarks of the JSB meeting.
Speech provided by the President’s PR Mr Anthony Kaybing Via their Facebook Page
Tomorrow, we look at the speech by Prime Minister’s Honourable Peter O’Neil MP; Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
Please note that a joint press release by the ABG media and PM’s Department will be published later.
The joint press release will outline the outcome or resolution of the JSB meeting.
SPEECH BY PRESIDENT CHIEF DR. JOHN MOMIS TO THE JSB MEETING HELD IN ARAWA AT THE SHARP YOUTH MEMORIAL CENTRE
13th March, 2015
1. Honourable Peter O’Neil MP; Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
2. Ministers of the National Government.
3. ABG Ministers
4. Deputy Secretary to Department of Prime Minister and NEC, Mr. Trevor Meauri
5. Chief to ABG, Mr. Monovi Amani
6. Heads of Government Departments and Statutory Authorities of National Government and ABG
7. Ladies and Gentlemen
1. On behalf of my people of Bougainville and the Autonomous Bougainville Government I would like to sincerely welcome Hon. Prime Minister’s O’ Neil and members of the National Government delegation to this important meeting of 24 JSB in Arawa.
2. The fact that this meeting is held in Arawa is indicative of the substantial progress and level of maturity and trust achieved since the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001.
3. Hon. Prime Minister, by personally attending this meeting and coming to Arawa goes along to demonstrate to our people of Bougsinvile and Papua New Guinea as a whole, your interest and commitment to dealing with the Bougainville issue.
4. I take this opportunity to thank your predecessors, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Mekere Morauta, late Honourable Bill Skate, Sir Julius and Hon. Sir Rabbie Namaliu for their support given to the Bouginville process.
5. Prime Minister, I want to single out the great contribution by the late Hon. Bill Skate for his visionary, commitment and non-nonsense approach that has been instrumental in significantly fast-tracking the process.
6. Your visits to Bougainville to open the Aropa Airport and now to attend this meeting follows from the example of your former party leader in personally making the Bougainville issue his issue.
7. Former Prime Minister, the late Bill Skate’s visit in the midst of the crisis broke a lot of barriers and paved the way for close and meaningful dialogue between the National Government and Bougainville leaders.
8. This is the example that we as leaders must continue to adopt and maintain.
Trust Between The Two Governments
9. Hon. Prime Minister O’Neil, as you are well aware, the issue of trust between our leaders in honouring the Bougainville Peace Agreement is very important.
10. The Bougainville Peace Agreement is a trust document between two conflicting parties that outlines the parameters we must operate within.
11. There is an obligation for all of us leaders to work within the framework and spirit of the Peace Agreement in order for us to avoid misunderstandings and contentious issues from arising.
12. It is a bipartisan agreement that involved different parties, hence, I must caution against unilateral decision making by any of the parties.
Frustrations Over Inadequate Financial Support
13. While the Autonomous Bougainville Government is appreciative and grateful for the financial support provided by the National Government over the years, we remain concern and critical as the level of support has not been commensurate with the costs of providing these services and the level of powers and functions transferred.
14. We have observed that while other provinces recurrent budget has increased over the years commensurate with the increase in cost of services provided, the same has not been true for Bougainville.
15. The appropriations by successive governments for Bougainville’s recurrent budget have stayed mostly the same with minimal increases only for some years.
16. We are also concerned about the National Government’s continued disrespect for the Agreements signed and honouring its part in the Agreements.
17. The National Government has displayed arrogance on its part in its unilateral decisions in reducing the RDG by K15 million in 2012 and most recently reducing the 2015 SIF by K30 million to repay cuts to the RDG.
18. We need to come up with a mechanism to integrate DSIP/PSIP funds into the ABG’s budgetary framework to ensure they are aligned with our priorities.
19. Bougainville continue to miss out on local-government grants given to other LLGs in Papua New Guinea.
20. The unilateral and unpredictable actions by the National Government makes us wonder whether Bougainville has been unduly victimized and made the sacrificial lamb on the alter of self-determination.
Our Frustrations at Lengthy Period in Draw-down of Powers
21. The Bougainville Executive Council has expressed its concerns and frustration at the lengthy period taken to draw-down powers and slow progress made in drawing down powers after we have taken the first step of signaling our intentions.
22. National Government departments and statutory bodies ought to be made aware that Bougainville by right is entitled to exercise all powers vested with it under the Peace Agreement and PNG constitution.
23. The fact that we do not have these powers is because of our capacity in terms of financial and other resources available to undertake those powers and functions.
24. The people of Bougainville are yet to experience and enjoy the benefits of autonomy and even feel what is like to be an autonomous region with the powers vested to Bougainville under the Agreements and PNG constitution.
25. This is almost after eleven (11) years of signing the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
26. It has been our experience that some National Government departments continue to disregard the directives of the JSB signed by the highest political authority vested with the Prime Minister on behalf of the National Government and the President of ABG on behalf of Bougainville.
27. We are pushing strongly through this JSB for an overarching framework that will enable ABG and the National Government to establish a mechanism for the timely release of powers and functions directed towards building the capacity of the Bougainville Administration.
28. The framework should aim for shorter period in the drawdown process and should commit respective departments to provide the supportive framework by providing the legal draftsmen, secondment of officers and the resources that follow the respective powers and functions.
29. There is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that there is some reluctance by some bureaucrats in Waigani to allow for the speedy transfer of these powers.
30. This has been evidenced by difficulties we are facing in requesting the drawdown of powers.
31. We are currently experiencing difficulties in the process of drawdowns with the following departments and agencies;
– Environment and Conservation
32. We would like to see substantial progress in the drawdown of these powers in the coming year and are taking the bold step of requesting that all powers due to Bougainville must be transferred by the year 2016.
33. The year 2015 is a crucial year in the peace process with the opening of the referendum window in June, 2015.
34. We are concerned that with only five years remaining for the referendum to be held, not much progress has been made.
35. The Referendum Committee needs to meet regularly and move fast to progress the various milestones that we need to achieve for the successful staging of the referendum.
36. There is the important task of preparing the people of Bougainville through a comprehensive awareness program in order for them to be ready to make the most important decision of their life.
37. This must happen very quickly.
38. The fact is that timing is not on our side and that important decisions need to be made by the two Governments through the respective bipartisan Committee to agree on several milestones that need to happen.
39. As a way forward, the ABG is proposing that we hold the referendum at a date agreed to by both Governments in the first quarter of 2019.
40. We have arrived at this timing taking into account the commitments by both the National Government and ABG over the next five years.
41. These are the coming ABG and National elections in 2017, the Pacific Games and the forthcoming APEC meeting.
42. The referendum committee comprising officials of both Governments will need to move quickly and reach agreement on important issues such as (1) eligibility for voting, (2) the relevant questions to be asked, including the question on whether Bougainville should be independent or not, and (3) the appropriate agency for conducting the referendum.
43. The third ABG elections will be held by May this year and a new Government will be in place by June.
44. We are grateful to the support provided by National Electoral office and aid agencies to put together a successful election.
45. We have written to the National Government requesting K2 million to meet our budget shortfall and await a response.
5 Year Medium Term Plan (2015-2019)and Bougainville Strategic Vision and Plan
46. The administration is in the process of consolidating the Bougainville Medium term plan for the next five years in order to fill the gap in development planning.
47. The Medium term plan covering a period of over five years is intended to provide strategic direction and the development framework that will guide the ABG budgets.
48. In addition, Bougainville Executive Council has recently endorsed the process of consultation to formulate the Bougainville Strategic Vision. The strategic plan will be put in place to if the vision is to be translated into tangible results for our people for a lengthy period.
49. The Bougainville Vision will determine the future or type of Bougainville that we want, defines our values as Bougainvilleans, sets our standards for governance and how the resources will be equitably distributed.
50. An equally daunting task is to develop and formulate the Bougainville Long-term Development Growth Strategy that will be needed to achieve our overall vision.
51. The long-term development strategy must identify the appropriate strategies needed to fulfill our vision.
52. In our push for autonomy, the transfer of powers and functions from the National Government is meaningless if it does not translate to higher living standards for our people.
53. We need to put together a development framework that plots our future development process over the next thirty to fifty years.
Bougainville Permanent Mining Bill
54. The last House of Representatives Assembly meeting will have the important task of passing the Permanent Bougainville Mining Act. I want to thank the National Government and the World Bank for their assistance in helping us to put the Act together.
Bougainville Energy Plan
55. The development of an overall energy development plan for Bougainville is critical for the future development of Bougainville.
56. The plan will need to focus on alternative energy sources such as hydro utilizing the many river systems on Bougainville and solar energy. I take this opportunity to thank the National Government for facilitating the loan that will enable us to build the Ramazon Hydo-electric scheme that will cost K35 million.
57. Despite the frustrations raised above, I am positive of the future for all of us.
58. I am appealing to both parties to make it happen for the Bougainvlle people. We need to work together within the framework of the Bougainville peace Agreement.
59. I take this opportunity to once again thank the Prime Minister for his continued support for the peace process in Bougainville. His presence today is a demonstration of the high regard he has for our people of Bougainville and PNG as a whole.
60. I thank all the other officials from both sides who have worked tirelessly and sacrificed a lot to bring the peace process to where it is today.
Thank you and may God Bless us all.
Hon. Dr. John Momis