Bougainville and PNG JSB : Major talkfest postponed as ABG threatens PNG court action

No Show

The president of Bougainville says the Papua New Guinea government’s decision to reduce funding to the autonomous region’s government could compel its people to push for secession from PNG.

John Momis says the government’s 2016 budget makes savage cuts to almost every aspect of funding for Bougainville.

He told the Post Courier that the autonomous Bougainville government’s budget has been reduced by 10 million US dollars, and several other grants for development and the Bougainville Peace Agreement have also been cut.

The Joint Supervisory Body Meeting scheduled for this week  was deferred to February 15th and 16th, 2016 after negotiations by leaders from the ABG and the National Government came to a deadlock regarding calculations on outstanding issues owed to the ABG by the National Government as per the Bougainville Peace Agreement on Development Grants.

The leaders met at the Rapopo Resort just after the Prime Minister, PETER O’NIEL arrived from Port Moresby.

ABG President, Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS had earlier released a press release stating that the Autonomous Bougainville was not happy at the National Government for not honouring commitments it agreed to at the last JSB.

He said that if the two parties were not agreeing to the payments then the ABG had no option but to go to the Supreme Court to make its interpretation of the law.

Most of the team members including development partners including the Australian High Commission, New Zealand High Commision staff,US embassy and UN team both based in Buka and Port Moresby were waiting at the Gazelle International Hotel for the JSB to commence when officers came with the announcement.

The announcement was made by the Director for NCOBA, Mr. Ellison Towalom.

He announced that the leaders have agreed for the JSB to be deferred to next year.

Bougainville House of Representatives : Statement by the Speaker Simon Pentanu

 Simon Pentanu

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Office of the Speaker

STATEMENT BY SPEAKER

Budget session

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Simon Pentanu MHR has announced the 2015 Budget meeting will commence on Monday 21 December at 2 o’clock pm. This is the date agreed to in consultation with the President and the Minister for Finance taking into account the preparation time for the budget to be finalised. The House will meet over two to three days to consider and approve the Autonomous Region’s  budget for 2016.

This will be the final meeting for this year. The first meeting of the House in the New Year will be in March at a date and time to be fixed by the Speaker in consultations with the President.

In a prepared statement the Speaker also made brief reference to a number matters on his impressions to the start of the Third House 2015-2020.

Parliamentary Committees

The Speaker said the start to his term in Office has been eventful. It has been a period of settling in for all members, including Ministers. The Speaker expressed a particular delight that the House has appointed its main and important select and statutory parliamentary committees early in the life of the Third House. The parliamentary committee system in its full operational capacity would provide the best opportunities for members to play their rightful roles in wider and inclusive ways as leaders, lawmakers and elected representatives.

 Parliament poorly resourced

Mr Pentanu said resources,  financial resources in particular, will continue to be a challenge in the administration of the Parliament. In this regard the Speaker said that sadly, over the last ten years the Parliament which is an important arm of the Government has been poorly resourced. Even more appalling, the Legislature as one of the three symbiotic arms of the Government has been regarded , if not degraded as if it is just another administrative arm of the Autonomous Bougainville Administration.

He said that unless this attitude is changed Parliament and its parliamentarians will not play their representative, lawful roles as long as the Parliamentary Service continues to be poorly resourced. He said it is already obvious to him that the demand on members’ time and effort compared to the meagre resources that come with the office of a member is enormous. A Parliament and parliamentary service that is adequately resourced can plan well in supporting the constitutional mandate of elected leaders and provide integrity and respect to the roles they are expected to perform.

Financial Accountability

Our whole financial administration regime and accountabilities for funds at every level need to be blow torched and overhauled. We cannot continue to walk up and down the same corridors and expect different results. I am confident however, we have the leaders in Parliament to institute changes through well thought out and considered decisions to demand more and better accountabilities overall over ABG’s finances  in order to do and achieve more from the resources Bougainville is raises and receives. Our members are not just law makers, the Parliament is also the highest oversight body to which the Executive and the bureaucracy is accountable.

Women’s participation

Our women parliamentarians have shown confidence, commitment, desire and a strong will to make their marks inside and outside Parliament as they strive to represent women of Bougainville. Their participation in debates, the questions they direct at the ministerial benches and their appreciation of what their roles entail has been impressive so far.

Former combatants

Our three members representing the former combatants have contributed to discussions and debates in an assured way. They are members of important parliamentary select committees. However, as representatives of interest groups the members need more assistance in articulating the hovering constituency issues in a way that Parliament and Bougainville leadership may be able to involve or utilise their membership in a progressive way in connection with the constituents they represent.

Positive start

The management of the business of the House, the corporation and collaboration with the Executive in Parliament and attendance and  participation by all members during parliamentary sessions has been pleasing. Members have benefitted from inductions at the start of their political and parliamentary career. Member’s attendance and participation at a recent parliamentary seminar jointly hosted by the Department of Referendum, Peace and Veterans in a rural setting was very encouraging.

Autonomous funding

Ours is a Parliament by the People, for the People, of the People and we must go back to the People at every opportunity.  I do not see why this should be difficult when this is the duty and desire of all members. It is absolutely possible with proper planning and adequate funding under an arrangement in which Parliament is funded separately in an autonomous arrangement where it is provided and is accountable for its funding.

 

Bougainville Referendum, Peace and Veterans Department News

Tanis

“Since the last JSB, the ABG has taken steps to implement the ABG’s part of the bargain, that is it created the Ministry, It approved the Acting Appointments, Trident strategy and completed its key Consultations with all different factions regarding the Bougainville Referendum.”

Acting Secretary for the Department of Referendum, Peace and Veterans Affairs, JAMES TANIS

Aloysius Laukai and Tom Kathoa reporting for Bougainville News

The Acting Chief Secretary for Bougainville, PAUL KEBORI has called on all ABG departments to support, the Secretary for Referendum and his office in their effort to fast-track referendum preparations throughout the region.

KEBORI made this call at the opening of the Referendum Office in Buka this afternoon.

He said that his office will support the Referendum Office and called on other divisions to also do the same.KEBORI said that the task ahead was enormous and demands co-operation by all Bougainvilleans to make the job a little easier.

The Acting Secretary for the Department of Referendum, Peace and Veterans Affairs, JAMES TANIS says that his office needs to settle in a proper office to prepare for the upcoming Referendum.

Speaking at the opening of the Referendum Office in Buka , MR. TANIS said that his office has started receiving International visitors and due to no office, they have been meeting visitors under shades and in guest houses.

He said that since the last JSB, the ABG has taken steps to implement the ABG’s part of the bargain, that is it created the Ministry, It approved the Acting Appointments, Trident strategy and completed its key Consultations with all different factions regarding the Bougainville Referendum.TANIS said that his office has already consulted the Panguna Meekamui, the Konnou Meekamui, and also had the ABG Parliamentarians workshop on Referendum and at the weekend visited NOAH MUSIGNKU in his Tonu city regarding the same

The ABG Vice President and Minister for Referendum, Peace and Veterans Affairs, PATRICK NISIRA this afternoon called on his officers to stop all unnecessary expenses such as Hire Cars and other payments in the name of his Department.

Speaking at the opening of the Bougainville Referendum Office in Buka this afternoon, MR. NISIRA said that he wanted all expenses reduced as the region had no money due to the non payment of the Restoration and Development grants for the last three years.

NISIRA called on Directors, JAMES TANIS, Referendum, Peter Sohia, Veterans and Laurie Patrick, Peace to return all hire cars and use only divisional vehicles starting today.

He said that if the ABG needs to reduce its expenses then, it should start with the Referendum, Peace and Veterans Department.

The office of the Department of Referendum, Veterans Affairs and Peace has completed its Trident Strategy Plans for the region.

Acting Secretary for the Department, James TANIS said the department has completed holding meetings and dialogue with all the Meekamui Factions, Panguna Veterans and Noah Musingku on the move towards referendum.

Tanis says all these discussions have been very successful and fruitful adding that ABG officials attending the Rabaul JSB Meeting will be in a stronger and better position to present the government’s case.

He said the ABG is very serious about what it is doing in progressing the region towards the conduct of referendum and most importantly for a good outcome .

He said that since the last JSB, the ABG has taken steps to implement the ABG’s part of the bargain, that is it created the Ministry, It approved the Acting Appointments, Trident strategy and completed its key Consultations with all different factions regarding the Bougainville Referendum.

TANIS said that his office has already consulted the Panguna Meekamui, the Konnou Meekamui, and also had the ABG Parliamentarians workshop on Referendum and at the weekend visited NOAH MUSIGNKU in his Tonu city regarding the same

“I wish to take this opportunity to announce that my ministry as part of its trident strategy will continue consultations with the veteran communities in South, Central and North Bougainville.”  “My team has already done the first part of the consultations down in Buin on the 2nd and on the 4th in Central Bougainville and on the 6th will complete veteran consultations at the regional level here on the northern tip of Bougainville,” Mr Nisira said.

He also said on the 16th of this month his ministry and the office of the speaker will invite ABG members to a referendum workshop at the parliament level.

“The purpose of this workshop will be to formulate a common position on key issues about the actual date of the conduct of referendum, the choices available which includes the option of separate independence for Bougainville, the code of conduct during the referendum and also on the steps Bougainville needs to take after the referendum,’’ he said.

Mr Nisira stated that these were  important steps that must involve the elected leaders on Bougainville.

“Referendum is a political agenda and all elected leaders are called upon to provide leadership in each constituency to prepare Bougainville for the referendum, successful conduct and peaceful transition to the next steps ahead,” he said.

The Vice President also announced that the ABG will officially open a Mekamui office within the Bougainville administration to assist ABG with completion of reconciliations, unification and weapons disposal.

The opening of the Mekamui office will coincide with the MDF Commanders first visit to Buka after signing agreements in Panguna.

After completion of the ABG parliamentary workshop on referendum, a Bougainville leaders team will take the Bougainville position and negotiate it at a referendum summit  in Port Moresby.

And the agreed outcome of the summit on the key referendum decision will be presented to the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) on the same week on the 3rd of December.

 

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