Bougainville News: ICT Boost to Strengthen PNG and Bougainville Parliaments

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“An improved ICT network for the Bougainville House of Representatives, will positively impact the conduct of Parliamentary business by Members and further strengthen inter–parliamentary communication with other Parliaments that are part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.”

Bougainville’s House of Representatives’ Deputy Speaker, Hon. Francesca Semoso,

Article by Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Papua New Guinea is beginning to develop into a rapidly growing industry.

One can only look at the active involvement of ordinary PNG citizens and businesses that have taken the opportunity presented by ICT through various social media channels such as Facebook which has a total of 350,000 users as of 2015.

This demonstrates how Papua New Guineans have recognised the use of ICT and the abundant opportunities that can be derived from it.

In a recent media release from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week, PNG’s National Parliament House along with the Bougainville House of Representatives will now have an ICT upgrade.

This follows a visit from experts from the United Nations who were in the country to provide technical and strategic advice as an initiative of UNDP’s larger work on strengthening Parliaments around the world as an institution of governance.

The visiting senior advisors, Gerry Kessell-Haak (New Zealand) and Richard Coombe (Scotland) visited Port Moresby and Buka, meeting up with the parliamentary staff, reviewing and assessing the current ICT infrastructure in place, and conducting meetings with staff about their job requirements.

Bougainville’s House of Representatives’ Deputy Speaker, Hon. Francesca Semoso, stated that an improved ICT network for the Bougainville House of Representatives, will positively impact the conduct of Parliamentary business by Members and further strengthen inter–parliamentary communication with other Parliaments that are part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

“Any assistance given to improve ICT infrastructure and processes in Parliament will assist in achieving the Speaker’s Hon. Theo Zurenuoc’s vision to modernize Parliament”, commented PNG’s Acting Speaker Hon. Aide Ganasi, who expressed his gratitude for the work and efforts UNDP has placed in facilitating this exercise.

Also present during this event was UN’s Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Roy Trivedy, who stated that ICT provides critical tools for building strong, effective parliaments that are able to advance inclusive and sustainable human development.

“UNDP is happy to partner with the Government of PNG and the Bougainville House of Representatives to use its best knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the country. This support will assist the PNG Parliament and the ABG Parliament to improve the effectiveness of their legislative and representative work”, Mr Trivedy added.

On a broader national scale, PNG is a developing country with over 800 local languages and a total literacy rate of 64.2% according to the 2015 estimates from CIA World Factbook (that includes ages between 15 years and over who can read and write). The country’s majority of the population live in the rural areas that lack ICT infrastructure – that’s 87.02% of the country’s 7.464 million people.

While the effects of ICT in the country are quite obvious with the number of internet users standing at 625,874 as of 2015, the issues of accessibility and literacy are some of the many questions that point out the challenges that exist for PNG where ICT is concerned.

UNDP is currently working to strengthen the capacities of legislatures in the Pacific region, assisting several countries which include:

  • Fiji
  • Solomon Islands
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Vanuatu
  • Palau
  • Kiribati
  • PNG with Bougainville and
  • Republic of Marshall Islands

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Bougainville President Press Release : First address of the State to Bougainville

Momis2016

First address of the State to Bougainville

Part One

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis speaks on key issues that ABG is currently addressing. Momis made his first appearance for this year at a media conference held on Monday 8th 2016.

President Momis, firstly wished all citizens of Bougainville a Happy New Year.

He wasted no time in addressing the issues and challenges faced by his government the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG);

• Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA)

2016 will bring some big changes and improvement to Bougainville.
If we look at the bigger vision of what BPA is, you will begin to see that only in Bougainville, WE have a strong government.

We have the right to vote for a referendum to get independence.

PNG constitution does not allow other provinces to get autonomy the same as Bougainville. PNG constitution does not allow any other provinces to get independence.

This is a unique right of the constitution of Papua New Guinea. This, the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is a result of Peace in Bougainville an outcome that ended the war, a bloody war that killed 15-20,000 people.

The powers, which the ABG already has, cannot be taken back by the national government. It is irretrievable. It is protected under the provision called double entrancement clause in the peace agreement.

The National Government cannot get back all the powers that Bougainville has already drawn down.

According to the Peace Agreement, and inline with the constitution, the National Government and ABG must work together to achieve results of the peace agreement.

The two must have a joint partnership in implementing the peace agreement. This means that the national government has a very big responsibility to make available all the provision funds to operate ABG and fund services to the people of Bougainville.

The national government is not at liberty with all funds. When doing so, the national government has broken the constitution and the peace agreement.

ABG has a lot of power under the Bougainville Peace Agreement. But because we don’t have enough knowledge and experience all these powers are not in use and are not functioning.

When we have enough educated people and if we build capacity then all powers will function and the people will see the results and outcome of the true meaning of drawing down those powers.

But before that can happen as well, the government (ABG) must make new policies and laws. Having draw down of powers without policies and legislation will not bring out any results. And they become non-existent although already existing. This is a big problem in Bougainville because there are not enough educated people with experience in law, planning, and finance to make new policies.

• ABG’s biggest challenge
This means that Bougainville must have a lot of educated people who can make laws to encourage new ideas.

ABG’s biggest challenge is not having enough human resource that is equipped with a capacity of creating new laws and policies that can move the region forward.

• National government breaking law

The National Government is breaking the law when it is not meeting all the funding under the Bougainville Peace Agreement that is suppose to compliment the functions of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. This is a controversy to the constitution of the National Government and the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the leaders and people of Bougainville.

ABG is not begging the National Government for money. The National Government owes ABG money.

Before the crisis, Bougainville was the main income driver for the National Government. Contribution from Bougainville to the National Government was tremendous.

And so, the action of the National Government shows that the government has no gratitude of Bougainville’s contribution in the past.

• Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) 15th and 16th of February 2016

The Autonomous Bougainville Government will raise this issue again at the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting that will be held on the 15th and 16th of February.

JSB is a special meeting held between the National Government and the ABG to address and resolve critical issues raised by the ABG to the National Government and from the National Government to ABG. It is a special meeting held between both governments to negotiate inline with the peace agreement.

We hope that there is already work done to resolve a lot of issues faced by ABG.

To be continued…

State’s first address to the Public
Part 2 (A continuation from part one)

President Chief Dr John Momis elaborated on the five principles of his government during his first term as the president for the second house of government in 2010.

Five principles
The five principles as first announced in the inauguration of the 2010 government:
1. Unification of all Bougainvilleans.
2. Securing the political future of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
3. Promoting Good governance in the rule of law.
4. Public Awareness

1. Unification
A principle that believes in strengthening unity amongst the people and government by acknowleding that:
• The outcome of the referendum will be difficult to achieve if their is no unity. The outcome of the referendum will be a result of the two governments (GoPNG and ABG) consulting each other on the outcome.
• It means that for unity to take place, we must agree to become a member of a team.
• Unity means encouraging a lot of debates on referendum in Bougainville and PNG.

2. Securing the political future of the Bougainville Peace Agreement
A principle that believes in strengthening the ABG by:
• Strengthening and increasing the laws of Bougainville. ABG has its own laws already. Mining laws, Lands, Education etc
• A preparedness of the ABG to conduct the referendum successfully and the questions to consider in preparation for the vote
• Encouraging ABG to archieve complete autonomy. ABG autonomy is 90% of Independence.
• Preparing Bougainville for referendum.

Good governance in the rule of law
A principle that believes in good governance in the rule of law by:
• Accepting and upholding a democratic system of government.
• Upholding the constitution and law and order and not agreeing to the traditional or customary way or any other way of upholding the law.

Building public awareness
A principle that believes in using the media as the way forward for awareness:
• The media must sing and dance the same tune when disseminating information about mining, referendum, investment, and development…
• The media and NGOs must not confuse the public with wrong information.
• It refers to ABG having dialogue discussion with the people of Bougainville and the government and PNG.
• For both ABG and GoPNG to jointly implement the peace agreement.

President Chief Dr John Momis urged for every citizen to take responsibility with their lives.

Responsible of each citizen
It is every citizen’s responsibility to:
• Go to church and have a strong relationship with God.
• Have an interpersonal relationship with your family (ies), clan, community,
• Be concerned about issues in your local area, community, and societies within your constituency, other constituencies and around Bougainville.

President Momis made other announcements.
New announcement are:
• Vice President Patrick Nisira and his team was in Scotland to learn about how referendum was conducted in that area
• This year there will be more trauma counseling programs under the UN Peace Building fund in Bougainville.
• ABG will have funding to implement economic programs tailored for people who can become self-reliant including the government.
• ABG will approve the new Public Service structure for Bougainville this year. All positions will be reviewed, approved and advertised.
• The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is now known as the model peace agreement in the world.

Bougainville Women’s News : Australia supports Young Women’s Leadership Project in Bougainville

Australia supports women in Bougainville

The project will emphasise the value of women candidates and promote men’s respect for the rights of their wives and partners to choose who they wish to vote for,”

Ambassador Stott Despoja said

Deputi Spika blong Autonomous Bougainville Gavman, Francesca Semoso em i salim bikpela tok tengkyu long gavman na pipol blong Australia long help ol i bin wok long givim Autonomous Region blong Bougainville.

Australia is supporting two new projects aimed at improving leadership skills and voter awareness among women in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, today launched the Young Women’s Leadership and the Voter Awareness and Leadership Education projects while on a visit to Bougainville.
Funded through the Australian aid program, the K2.8 million Young Women’s Leadership Project will support young women to build leadership skills and confidence to have a greater voice in local and regional government affairs and policy development.
The K1 million Voter Awareness and Leadership Education project will assist men and women to fully participate in and understand democratic processes.
“The project will emphasise the value of women candidates and promote men’s respect for the rights of their wives and partners to choose who they wish to vote for,” Ambassador Stott Despoja said.
Australia supports gender equality in the Autonomous Bougainville Government through a jointly developed and agreed to gender investment plan (2014-19) valued at $14 million. The plan focuses on three key areas: to reduce gender-based violence and provide support services for survivors; strengthen women’s leadership and influence in decision-making; and improve women’s economic opportunities.
In consultation with the PNG Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Australia is increasing its aid to Bougainville to support stability by strengthening governance and service delivery, promoting social cohesion and economic growth, and empowering women and youth.

Deputi Spika blong Autonomous Bougainville Gavman, Francesca Semoso itok tenk yu long Australia long despla raon blong Ms Stott Despoja long Bougainville

Deputi Spika blong Autonomous Bougainville Gavman, Francesca Semoso em i salim bikpela tok tengkyu long gavman na pipol blong Australia long help ol i bin wok long givim Autonomous Region blong Bougainville.

Long nau ia, gavman blong Australia igat wanpela 14 million dollar 2014-2019 program wantaim ABG long sait long helpim ol meri.

Stat long Trinde ikam inap long tede, Ambassador blong Australia long sait long ol meri na gels, Natasha Stott Despoja em ibin visitim Bougainville.

Long Trinde em ibin lonsim Bougainville Women’s Federation facilities long Buka.

Ms Despoja ibin bungim to ol 4 pela meri insait long ABG palamen.

Na Francesca Semoso husat i memba makim ol meri long North Bougainville i tok ol meri lida ia ibin tokim Ms Despoja long go toksave long bikpela tengkyu long gavman blong Australia long olgeta help long olgeta yia.

Bougainville reflections :For the mothers, peace in Panguna has come in many respects.

Smoke

“A mother in the village is one with Mother Earth, she never ever doubts motherland will provide all bare and sumptuous necessities for life. Always, in all ways.

Development, progress, growth and impact projects continue to be misnomers for the rural majority that is subsistent, self sufficient, interdependent and content.”

Simon Pentanu

I took this shot in a recent visit to Panguna, 15 January 2016. It was a moving white marvel against dense forest greenery to look at with naked eyes from the distance. It was saying something the more I looked at it and the more I noticed it and saw two other white smokes rising from bushes in the distance farther beyond.

This white smoke was bellowing from the evergreen forest floor and bushes on the hilly periphery of one of the largest open cut mines in the world, Panguna, along old growth alpine virgin forests and rugged, rocky mountain spine of Moreha’s (Bougainville) Crown Prince Range.

Where there’s white smoke rising there’s a mother weeding, toiling and gardening. She will return to her garden in time to harvest the fruits of her labour.

A mother in the village is one with Mother Earth, she never ever doubts motherland will provide all bare and sumptuous necessities for life. Always, in all ways.

Development, progress, growth and impact projects continue to be misnomers for the rural majority that is subsistent, self sufficient, interdependent and content.

Food security also means you cannot eat money but you should still grow, gather, hunt or catch for your sustenance. This is what the world is coming to, not what Referendum and Independence promise which is trying to catch up with the rest of the world and be like the Jones’s or join the rat race with the Toms, Dicks, Harrys and Muhammads.

Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, in the rift valleys and ravines, along the the river banks and along meandering creeks that the possibilities in the modern, civilised world are limitless.

Mothers though will say this to you: theirs is a symbiotic and mutually belonging relationship together with Mother Earth where they live for each other everyday. It is not an existential crisis or struggle for survival. They belong to the land, they aren’t separate from it. They sow and reap with care and respect without ripping into the guts and disemboweling their land.

For the mothers, peace up here has come in many respects. The most telling is that the land is replenishing and renewing itself albeit it’ll never ever be the same again. But their consolation and proof of this is in better root crop harvests, many more fingers on banana bunches, firm and oilier ground nuts, plentiful fruits and vegetables and seeing grasshoppers that have come back often to their annoyance.

May be even the copper, gold and silver are replenishing and growing to replace what was mined and taken out.

The other thing that is quite telling and that makes life worth living as it was is that women in Panguna can experience and benefit from the power of quiet in their own world which which was always disturbed by unrelenting world of noise of men and machines digging and ripping out the heart of their land.

Life in the village usually starts early for women than men. When he’s still taking time to get up and wipe his eyes awake, she’s left for the garden with her metal and wooden implements to continue from where she left her gardening the other day.

Seeing rising thick and thin white smokes here and there from the gardens on hilly and forested peripheries of the mine means life has gone back to normal.

But has it really?