Bougainville Communications/ New Technologies PART 2 : Creating awareness on the referendum and development

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People can now listen to information on radio by tuning in to Shortwave 1 frequency; 3.325 kilohertz on NBC Bougainville and the shortwave radio signal covers all parts of Bougainville and can be heard as far as East of Hawaii, Germany, Australia and the Pacific,”

“To stimulate public interest and create awareness on the referendum and development in Bougainville we have since June conducted 10 live talk back shows hosted by ABG’s Mobile Community Radio – Radio Ples Lain and relayed over NBC Bougainville and New Dawn,”

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis

Pic Caption: ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis (seated), with UNDP reps, chiefs and local leaders at the official launching of the upgraded NBC Bougainville studios last week.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is making headway in developing the media in the region to allow people more access to information.

This move has seen the upgrade of the NBC Bougainville facilities where the ABG committed K5 million to improve the coverage and broadcasting of the radio station.

In opening the facility ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said this included the procurement of new studio broadcast equipment, renovation to the Hutjena studio, procurement of a brand new fully digital 10 kilowatt shortwave transmitter.

We intend to embark on a region wide awareness campaign working closely with Constituency members, Communality Government, Village Assemblies, Women, Youth and Churches.

Momis added that the Bureau of Public Affairs, Media and Communication has so far produced and air 160 radio programmes since February to August 2016.

These radio programmes have been well appreciated by the people as they gain insight and understanding on what the government is doing at Department and Ministry level.

Another important development is the ABG’s very own Bougainville Bulletin which has progressed well with well over 150,000 copies distributed all over Bougainville since 2015.

President Momis also revealed that the ABG has started developing resource material to support awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and especially Referendum.

The UNDP as per the ABG’s request has supported the government with the procurement of equipment.

The equipment will be utilised to conduct awareness at the community level and includes a new information center based in Buka Town with literary material and a mobile audio visual vehicle convinently named Piksa Ples Lain.

 

Bougainville Referendum News : A pledge by Bougainville leaders to work together

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” All four national Members: Hon Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Jimmy Miringtoro, Minister for Communications, Hon Louta Atoi, member for North Bougainville and the recently elected MP for South Bougainville Hon Timothy Masiu  all took turns to air and share their views on the importance of consultations and commitment to work together on matters concerning Bougainville.

The pledge expresses a desire for everyone to be on the same page in implementing the terms and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a historical joint creation borne out of the efforts of the National Government and Bougainville’s political and factional leaders.”

Photo above : All four Bougainville national MPs with visiting members of Bougainville’s parliamentary committee on referendum after the Pledge

Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s four elected members in the National Parliament have come together, have spoken with one voice and have pledged they will work closely with the Bougainville’s Members of the House of Representatives.

In a small, unassuming but important, meeting over dinner hosted by the Minister for Bougainville Affairs on Thursday evening 11 August the four Bougainvillean national MPs made an unequivocal pledge that they will work with Bougainville parliamentarians in consulting, advising, sharing, working with each other and taking part in all matters of political, social and developmental interest and concern to Bougainville.

The main guests at the evening dinner gathering were members of the Bougainville House of Representatives committee on Referendum led by its Chairman Hon Joseph Watawi MHR.

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Photo above :At PNG Parliament Minister Joe Lera MP and Chairman Joseph Watawi MHR both with other colleague members.

The committee was in Port Moresby to observe the National Parliament in session and meet with the National Parliament bipartisan committee on Bougainville matters including referendum.

The joy and exchanges of pleasantries was most obvious. At long last! It is done!

There is more than one reason to expect there will be a lot of trust and cooperation from hereon between and amongst Bougainville politicians at the National level and in the Autonomous Region.

All four national Members: Hon Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Jimmy Miringtoro, Minister for Communications, Hon Louta Atoi, member for North Bougainville and the recently elected MP for South Bougainville Hon Timothy Masiu  all took turns to air and share their views on the importance of consultations and commitment to work together on matters concerning Bougainville.

A timely and proper, in-depth, educated and adequately funded awareness on referendum was discussed as one of the most important matters needing immediate focus and attention for concerted, cooperative approach by leaders.

The visiting members of the House of Representatives Parliamentary Committee on Referendum led by its Chairman Hon Joseph Watawi also spoke in turns all expressing delight that the undertaking for the Bougainville political leaders to work together is most welcome. Members of the committee that spoke and shared the same sentiments included Hon Marcelline Kokiai MHR, Hon Thomas Tari MHR, and Hon Tepaia  MHR

The people of Bougainville as electors will find comfort, confidence and assurance and can only benefit from the undertaking by their political leaders. Bougainvilleans have often criticized their politicians  for not working together on matters that can make a difference with better political cooperation  and coordination at the elected leadership level.

The four MPs representing Bougainville in the National Parliament have pledged that they will, from hereon, work with members of the Bougainville House of Representatives in the interest of all facets of development of Bougainville. The pledge expresses a desire for everyone to be on the same page in implementing the terms and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a historical joint creation borne out of the efforts of the National Government and Bougainville’s political and factional leaders.

After a number of attempts over many elections on both sides, many exchanges and  suggestions, to-ing and fro-ing, and at times laying blame from both sides, this is an achievement by Bougainville parliamentarians in both Houses to come to terms and put aside any differences in their commitment and approach on the ongoing political processes that requires their attention and decision.

The agreement pledged by the leaders followed two consultative meetings with the Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Chairman Watawi and members of his committee at Parliament House.

The Minister Hon Joe Lera said the National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA) which he heads as Minister has made a lot of effort to give practical effect to the roles and functions and fulfill the objective why this Office was established in the first place. With his intervention and better focus by the staff, NCOBA will be the primary coordination link between Bougainville and Port Moresby. His first task has been to get his colleagues the Bougainville national MPs to work in closer consultation with him through NCOBA.

The Speaker Simon Pentanu who accompanied the referendum committee delegation in his remarks  praised and thanked the national MPs for this development calling it remarkable because  he said it will see, in a long time, a meaningful consultative effort and cooperation by Bougainville parliamentarians at the national level and on Bougainville.

He said he will be inviting the four national MPs and expect them to take their seats in the House of Representatives in the forthcoming meeting in September and at all subsequent meetings of the House. He also said that from now on the dates of meetings of the Bougainville Parliament will be determined so they do not clash with National Parliament meetings to enable the four National MPs to attend.

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Photo Above : Meeting with PNG Parliamentary committee on Bougainville Matters and referendum, with UNDP and agencies invited as observers.

Hon Ministers Joseph Lera also informed the dinner meeting NCOBA is improving its coordinating role and under his watch he expects to deliver on the aims and objectives for which this Ministry for Bougainville was established.  His colleague national MPs praised and agreed with Minister Lera that since he assumed office as the Minister there has been enthusiasm, zest and zeal about the place.

Speaking for and on behalf of the parliamentary committee and his colleague MHRs Mr Watawi said that such a pledge between leaders has been some time coming. He said the pledge to work and stay together is like a bridge has now been built that Bougainville leaders can walk along together and cross both ways

Bougainville Peace Building News : Quest for truth, justice and reconciliation in Bougainville

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” Peace and reconciliation efforts since the 2001 peace agreement, supported by international donors including Australia, which plans to spend about $50 million on aid here in 2015-2016, have been rolled out in a data vacuum.

Now, a referendum in Bougainville on independence from Papua New Guinea looms within the next four years. It is a key pillar of the peace agreement, together with disarmament and the granting of autonomous government. But people across the islands have real concerns that unaddressed wartime abuses could undermine unity. Emotions and expectations of political change run high.”

Catherine Wilson The Saturday Paper 16 July Australia
Picture above   : The Prime Minister of Papa New Guinea’s Peter O’Neill visit to the autonomous island of Bougainville in 2014  – the first trip by a sitting PM since the end of the civil war in 1997 – has been warmly received by locals and ex-combatants : At one event the leaders of Bougainville and PNG both broke a bow and arrow across their knee to reaffirm the end of hostilities.

Since being ripped apart by violence and civil war, Bougainville’s attempts at reconciliation have barely scratched the surface. Fresh calls for more traditional ‘truth telling’ are bringing renewed hopes for peace.

He has suffering and fury in his bloodshot eyes, which are brimming with tears as he talks about his life in Bougainville, the eastern autonomous region in Papua New Guinea, which emerged 15 years ago from a devastating civil war, known as “the Crisis”.

Peter, in his 60s, from Keriaka village on Bougainville Island’s distant west coast, is standing in Buka, the northern capital, surrounded by market-going crowds. He is unleashing a tirade against corruption and lack of development in his remote rural area. The can of South Pacific Lager in his hand ejects an arc of spray as he gestures wildly to make a point. Curious onlookers are now intently watching our very public interview.

“We are paying taxes and in return we have nothing … and the content of the peace agreement is not being implemented as it should. How can we move toward the future while these issues of the past are not being addressed?” he says. Visible in his face is the trauma that still grips him after he fought and suffered during the decade-long conflict.

In 1989, civil war erupted after an armed uprising by local landowners shut down the Panguna copper mine, majority-owned by mining giant Rio Tinto and the Papua New Guinea government. The massive mine, located in the mountains of Central Bougainville, was operated from 1972 by Australian subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd, but within 16 years it was the centre of indigenous protests about loss of customary land, environmental destruction and local stakeholders’ negligible share of its revenue, which peaked about 1.7 billion kina ($700 million).

Papua New Guinea blockaded Bougainville in 1990 and the conflict raged on for another eight years, as the armed forces and revolutionary groups fought to gain control of the region.

Estimates of the death toll range from 15,000 to 20,000 people, or 10 per cent of the population. But there has been no inquiry into wartime atrocities and no accurate information is available of how many people died or suffered abuses.

“When we talk about the Crisis-related problems, our ideas are all mangled together and we are just talking on the surface, not really uprooting what is beneath, what really happened,” Barbara Tanne of the Bougainville Women’s Federation tells me. “Unless we sort out everything, we come with the truth telling, we cannot progress to the next level.”

Later, escaping the relentless humidity under a tree at the Catholic diocese offices, I meet Alex Amon, president of Suir Youth Federation in North Bougainville, who agrees with Tanne. “I am 100 per cent going for that,” he says. “I am supporting a truth commission to be established before the period of the referendum, because we cannot walk across the land of milk and honey when there are differences.”

Secessionist sentiment, evident in Bougainville since the 1970s, was reflected in Bougainville president John Momis’ assertion in a speech last year that the peace agreement “provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination”.

Transitional justice mechanisms, such as truth commissions or criminal trials, are considered important for postwar reconciliation. Victims of human rights abuses have a legal right to know the truth of events and see perpetrators brought to justice. In its absence, experts warn, there is a high risk of trauma and mistrust festering and resurfacing in further violence or unrest.

Helen Hakena, one of many women who persuaded combatants to lay down arms before the 1998 ceasefire, now strives tirelessly through the Leitana Nehan Women’s Development Agency, which she founded, for peace and development.

“There are victims,” she tells me. “They know the perpetrators but the perpetrators are walking freely right in the communities … It is really an injustice when you, the perpetrator, are moving on with your life as though nothing has happened but I cannot move on.”

She anticipates consequences if atrocities aren’t addressed. “It is happening now … The elderly people are passing on their negative experiences to their sons, who have not experienced that [the Crisis] and they will continue to hate the perpetrator’s family. Some of these kids will not know why they hate these people and there will be repercussions years later.”

The Bougainville government’s acting director of peace, Stephanie Elizah, acknowledges that previous discussions about transitional justice have never been acted on. There is particular sensitivity around the topic, particularly with former combatants, for whom the partial amnesty period from 1988 to 1995 is contentious.

In 2014, the government launched a policy to provide assistance to families still searching for loved ones who disappeared during the conflict, but it does not support justice or compensation measures.

Investigating human rights abuses soon after a fragile peace was declared would have entailed some risk, given that several armed groups did not sign the peace accord, nor surrender their weapons. However, Elizah admits the government’s current approach to peace and reconciliation, which will be reviewed this year, has fallen short of addressing deep-rooted grievances. “Those who have been involved in some form of injustice to the next human being – some of them have been allowed to just go and be forgotten.”

The situation is now backfiring, with “a resurgence of human rights abuses … also new forms of payback, torture and sorcery killings”, reports the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Nearly one in five men in Bougainville had engaged in sorcery-related violence. One in two men, and one in four women, had been witnesses, according to a Bougainville study released by the UN Development Program last year. One in three men and women said there is lack of peace in their communities.

South of Buka, the central town of Arawa, located 26 kilometres from Panguna, saw intense fighting. Walking towards the heaving central fresh produce market, the sound of a helicopter cuts the air. Passers-by gaze silently skyward as it soars into the mountains in the direction of the mine. No longer do helicopters induce fear of being strafed by gunfire.

But last October, the rural community of Domakungwida, not far from Arawa, was stunned by brutal shootings. One male villager, accused of witchcraft, was murdered. Then a relative of the victim picked up a gun and shot the person believed to have led the killing. Arson and further violent retribution followed.

Local resident Rosemary Dekaung told me that witchcraft accusations related to events during the Crisis are
not uncommon. “People have been accused of killing others during the Crisis and that has carried on in the form of recent killings.”

She is adamant that customary truth telling and reconciliation processes, employed following clan wars for generations and led with remarkable success by local leaders recently in Domakungwida, should be rolled out consistently to address the Crisis.

When I ask Rosemary Moses at the Bougainville Women’s Federation in Arawa if this is actually happening, she replies that “unfortunately this is where we have let ourselves down. We have let other people drive the [reconciliation] programs that are for our people.” She says that the lure of donor money, rather than local ownership, has overshadowed hundreds of reconciliations. Internal revenue accounts for only 10 per cent of the Bougainville government’s yearly budget of about 300 million kina, making it heavily reliant on international donors and the PNG government to fund peace and development programs.

The Catholic bishop of Bougainville, Bernard Unabali, suggests customary and modern truth-telling mechanisms may be needed, but the former must come first. He reserves judgement on the truth and reconciliation commission launched in 2009 in the neighbouring Solomon Islands, which had its own civil conflict from 1998-2003. He says time is needed to see if it has made a difference to lasting peace. Nevertheless, he does not dismiss the idea of taking those guilty of mass abuses to court. Nor does Moses, who believes it would help restore a sense of justice in Bougainville. “The voice of the common people is so low…” Moses says. “At the moment there is a lot of fear in terms of what they can say, especially when it comes to atrocities.”

At the bottom of the mountain road that leads up to the Panguna mine, where it all started 27 years ago, youths in camouflage fatigues swing on the boom gate as we drive through Morgan Junction. The valley is scattered with rusting mine infrastructure and gutted buildings. Amid the ruins a young man proudly displays a garden of flowers he has grown and schoolgirls throw a ball around a deserted car park. And I wonder about the world they will inherit in another decade.

Bougainville News: President Momis Press Statement 14 June future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development

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“The ABG must make sure that our existing small-scale mining industry is protected. It is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets. Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences. If we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.

PRESS STATEMENT – 14 JUNE 2016

JOHN L. MOMIS, PRESIDENT, AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

LIFTING THE BOUGAINVILLE MINING MORATORIUM

Chief John Momis, President of Bougainville, spoke today about debate in Bougainville’s House of Representatives on the future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development. The House concluded the debate on Tuesday 7 June. It passed a motion asking the Autonomous Bougainville Government (the ABG) to lift the moratorium completely

The Bougainville Executive Council initiated this debate in April. All members were also asked to seek the views of their people. Members had a further debate on the issues on Tuesday.

President Momis said:

“The moratorium was imposed in April 1971, by the colonial Administration. It prevented mining exploration or development in all areas except those already under BCL leases. Bougainvillean leaders asked for the moratorium because of deep concerns that there might be many more mines in addition to the huge Panguna mine.

“Although I proposed to the House that the moratorium should initially be lifted partially, most members of the House preferred to lift it completely. A major factor here is National Government failure to fund the ABG as the Peace Agreement requires. The ABG’s bad financial position means we must increase our internal revenue. Most members see mining sector development as the best way to lift the Bougainville economy, and also provide ABG revenue. My Government has listened to and will implement the motion of the House.

‘But last week’s motion by the House does not itself lift the moratorium. The debate in the House was for the purposes of public consultation only. Under the Mining Act, it is the Bougainville Executive Council that has power to lift the moratorium. It has not yet made that decision. Before it does so, the Act requires BEC to get advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Committee. It must also allow the House another opportunity for debate on the issues.

“We will do this as soon as the Bougainville Mining Department fully implements the Bougainville Mining Act provisions on small scale-mining. This requires reserving areas for small scale mining. They will be called Community Mining Reserved Areas, Community Governments and Ward Assemblies will issue community mining licences.

“Under the Mining Act, the Mining Department has till October 2016 to set up the new arrangements for licensing small-scale mining. The arrangements must be in place before the moratorium is lifted. Exploration licences are then likely to cover most areas where the ten thousand or more small-scale Bougainvillean miners now operate. Once an exploration licence is granted over an area, a community mining reservation is possible only if the exploration licence holder consents to it. Most exploration licence holders are unlikely to consent.

“The ABG must make sure that our existing small-scale mining industry is protected. It is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets. Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences. If we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.

“I have already given several directions to the Mining Department to implement the Community Mining Licence. As the Act requires those arrangements to operate by October, I can only assume that implementation work is far advanced. When the interests of small-scale miners are protected, we can lift the moratorium. I am today requesting my Minister for Mining, Hon. Robin Wilson, to obtain information from the Department about its progress in setting up the Community Mining Licence arrangements.

“An additional issue concerns the landowners impacted by the Panguna mine leases. The nine associations representing those landowners met me in Buka last week. They strongly requested a delay in lifting the moratorium until the after the holding of the Bel Kol ceremony with BCL. That ceremony has been requested by the landowners. They want to see this customary first step towards reconciliation about mining-related issues that caused conflict completed before there is any formal step towards resumption of large-scale mining in Bougainville. They are asking all Bougainvilleans and outside mining interests to respect their wishes in this regard.

“I am also requesting the Minister to investigate and report to me, as a matter of urgency, on how to ensure that Bougainville is not threatened by many mines being established. It was fear of this led Bougainvilleans to request the moratorium in 1971. It remains a real danger.

“The ABG Mining Act restricts the number of large-scale mining leases to no more than two at any one time – that is for mines like Panguna or Ok Tedi or Lihir. But there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines (usually open-cut or tunnelling mines).

“Once the Moratorium is lifted, if exploration licences are granted for all prospective areas, it will be difficult to limit the number of small mining leases. Lease holders and landowners will pressure for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

“Once exploration licences are granted, we could face huge pressures to approve small mines, wherever exploitable minerals are discovered. We could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Most of the available mineral resources could be extracted rapidly, in one generation, and all mining revenue too.

“I will look forward to my minister’s advice on how to deal with this problem.”

Chief John L. Momis

President, ARoB,

14 June 2016

Bougainville News: Momis Statement -The moratorium on mining exploration and development in Bougainville

 

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“We should not be rushing to open Bougainville to unrestricted exploration and mining. Some Bougainvillean groups (and small foreign investors) are keen to see unrestricted exploration immediately, and so advocate complete lifting of the Moratorium in all parts of Bougainville. But many others remain suspicious or uncertain about, or opposed to, unrestricted exploration and mining development.

That, to my mind, is another good reason for proceeding gradually, by partial lifting. “

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT JOHN. L. MOMIS TO THE BOUGAINVILLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JUNE 2016

See critics below and Bougainville News

Mr. Speaker:

As President of our Autonomous Region, I am pleased to participate in this major debate about one of the most important sets of issues facing Bougainville.

I remind the House that the Bougainville Peace Agreement says one of the main objectives of autonomy is to “empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their aspirations”.

The ABG’s Bougainville Mining Act 2015 involved the ABG taking over the powers needed for Bougainvilleans to solve our own problems and manage our own affairs in relation to all aspects of mining. In doing so, the Act aims to facilitate the realizing of our own aspirations.

The Bougainville Mining Act was passed by the members of the second House. They were representing the Bougainvilleans that elected them. They deliberately included a section in the Act to continue the 1971 moratorium that prevented mining exploration and development in most of Bougainville.

Mr. Sam Kauona is a critic of the moratorium, and of our debate about it. He claims that the section that continues the moratorium was secretly included in the Mining Act. His claim is completely untrue. In the debate about the Act, in 2014 and early 2015, several members were very concerned to make sure that the Moratorium continued. For example, in the seminar for members to discuss the draft Act held in this chamber in March last year, the member for Kongara asked for clear assurances that the moratorium was still included.

I am proud that we, the members of the third House, are back here now, debating what the future of that moratorium should be. This House represents the people of Bougainville. The House is the right place for discussion of the big issues facing Bougainville. So the House is an institution of great importance. I want to see the House taking a much more public role in debating the issues that face us.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I want to propose that in every future session that this House agree on an issue of importance to Bougainville which it will debate in the following session. That will ensure that we all think carefully about what those big issues are, and what the ABG should be doing about those issues.

As for the Moratorium, I need to remind this House that although the Mining Act continued the operation of the Moratorium, it also continued the operation of some aspects of mining rights and activities. They were exceptions to the Moratorium, things that were already recognised by the previous law. They included small-scale mining, and just a small part of the mining rights held by Bougainville Copper Ltd before the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2014. Before that, BCL had the rights under PNG law over the SML, many leases for mining purposes, and exploration licences over extensive areas north and east of Panguna. But under our Mining Laws, BCL has nothing more than an exploration licence over the area of the previous SML.

Mr. Kauona has been saying that the ABG included the Moratorium in the Act to make sure that only BCL will have rights to minerals in Bougainville. As is usually the case when he talks about ABG mining policy, Mr. Kauona is completely wrong. BCL now has very limited rights in Bougainville. It will not move from having just an exploration licence to being able to re-open Panguna unless Panguna landowners and the ABG are both in agreement with the conditions under which it will resume.

We must remember that the Moratorium was imposed in 1971 at the request of Bougainville leaders aiming to protect Bougainville from unlimited large mines. They were concerned that unlimited exploration licences could have seen many mines established all over Bougainville. Those same concerns remain valid today. Many people still share those concerns. That is why this debate is so important.

Our 2015 Mining Act gives the BEC power to lift the Moratorium, wholly or partially. Before it makes a decision, BEC must receive advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council, and allow a debate in the ABG parliament on its proposed decision.

The debate that we are having today is NOT part of that official, or formal, process for making a decision on the future of the Moratorium. That formal process has not even begun yet. Instead, our debate today is part of the BEC’s efforts to ensure that there is wide public debate on the issues involved here.

Mr. Kauona claims that I am making the decisions about the Moratorium. That is complete nonsense. The BEC has that power. And BEC has not even decided its position on the issue. So far the only thing BEC has done is decide that there should be open public debate on whether the Moratorium should be maintained, or lifted. Because we have no funds to conduct a public awareness and consultation, we have instead asked this House to debate the issues involved. Then BEC can take full account of the views expressed here, and by the public, when it does make a decision.

Before considering whether to lift the Moratorium, wholly or partially, it is important to remind ourselves what lifting the Moratorium would involve. I ask all members to be mindful of two important points.

The first such point is that the Moratorium does NOT stop two main activities or rights, and they are:

  • Small-scale mining, most of which was illegal under the PNG Mining Act, but made legal by the 2014 Transitional Mining Act, and what was legal under that Act continues to be legal under the 2015 Mining Act, but only until October 2016, when it is supposed to be covered by the new Community Mining Licences;
  • The BCL exploration licence over the former SML. But that gives no rights to BCL for anything except negotiation of the conditions for future mining, which is all on hold anyway, while BCL majority shareholder – Rio Tinto – decides the future of its equity in BCL;

The second important point is that the Moratorium DOES prevent six main forms of mining related licence or mining lease being granted:

  • artisanal mining licences, which are available only to Bougainvilleans – they are a step up from community mining licences, and cover small areas up to 5 hectares, dealing mainly with gravel, earth and perhaps rock, allowing work to a maximum depth of 10 metres (and so not allowing extensive open cut or tunnelling); and
  • reconnaissance licences, that allow people merely to make a preliminary examination, without any right to do drilling or other intensive exploration for or proving of minerals;
  • exploration licences, usually directed to finding enough minerals to justify an application for a mining lease;
  • mining leases, either large-scale or small-scale mining leases which are for mining deeper than 10 metres, and usually involve either open-cut mining, or underground tunnelling;
  • quarry leases;
  • leases for mining purposes (roads etc.) and mining easements.

In debate in this House on 5th April, I recommended lifting the Moratorium partially. Amongst other things, that would give the Bougainville Mining Department time to build its capacity to manage the new system for exploration licence applications.

More important, the Department has not yet developed administrative arrangements needed for handling international tender of exploration licences, and for the whole significant new system of Community Mining Licences for small-scale miners. If the Moratorium is lifted in full, then exploration licences for large-scale mining would be available for the whole of Bougainville. Once exploration licences are granted for the prospective areas of Bougainville, the Mining Department will not be able to implement those very aspects of the Mining Act, in the areas where exploration licences are operating.

I continue to recommend partial lifting of the Moratorium. But, I have also refined my thinking. It can be partial lifting in two main ways.

First, the moratorium could be lifted in full for some categories of licences for the whole of Bougainville. In particular, I see no reason why reconnaissance licences and artisanal licences should not be lifted. The same could be true for quarry leases. By lifting the Moratorium in this way, most Bougainvilleans interested in doing something more extensive than current small-scale mining will be able to do so.

But second, the Moratorium could be initially lifted partially for exploration licences (for possible open-cut or underground mines) and for mining leases. This would initially be lifting the Moratorium only for perhaps two or three special areas. Opening just limited areas to applications for exploration licences or mining leases would give the Mining Department time to test its tenement administration arrangements in those areas.

But main reason for this proposals for initial limited lifting of the Moratorium would be to allow the Department to establish the international tender and community mining licence arrangements. In particular, the Mining Department clearly needs time and resources to concentrate on the very important matter of establishing the community mining licence arrangements.

Let’s be clear here – I am not recommending that international tender be the only way exploration licences are granted for the whole of Bougainville. No. The idea with the international tender arrangements is for the Department to identify particular highly prospective areas of Bougainville, and to have geological survey carried out over those areas. Then if it is judged as worthwhile to do so, those areas can be advertised, and the geological survey material made available, as part of a process of inviting tenders for licences. This might generate significant revenue in exploration fees. But it is intended to be restricted to just a few areas where it is judged worthwhile to incur the expense and make the considerable effort likely to be involved.

But if we do not set up the arrangements first, then it is likely that much of Bougainville will be covered by exploration licences, which would make it almost impossible to identify areas suitable for dealing with through international tender. More important, we would then only be able to grant our new small-scale mining licences – the Community Mining Licences – only with the consent of exploration licence holders. That consent will probably be very difficult to obtain.

The partial lifting, in relation to exploration licences and mining leases, should only be for a short time – only for the year or two needed until arrangements for grant of community mining licences and international tender of exploration licences are in place.

But at the same time, I would recommend strongly that we make small but important amendments to the Bougainville Mining Act.

The first amendment would be to limit the number of small scale mining leases. At present the Act restricts the number of large-scale leases tow no more than two at any one time – that is for mines like Panguna or Ok Tedi or Lihir. But there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines (which, we must all remember, will usually be open-cut or tunnelling mines).

Once the Moratorium ifs lifted generally, if exploration licences are granted for all the prospective areas of Bougainville, it could become very difficult to limit the number of small-scale mines. The reason is that there will be pressures from licence holders, and some landowners, for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

Without restrictions on small-scale mining leases, we could face huge pressures to approve numerous mines, wherever minerals are discovered in exploitable quantities. We could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines operating at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Further, most of the available mineral resources could be extracted very rapidly, in the space of a generation.

My second suggested amendment would be simply a clarification that when considering lifting the Moratorium partially, the BEC may do that either by reference to category or tenement (e.g. full lifting of reconnaissance and artisanal licence and partial lifting of other tenements) or by reference to area for particular categories (e.g. in relation to exploration licences, mining leases and leases for mining purposes).

We should not be rushing to open Bougainville to unrestricted exploration and mining. Some Bougainvillean groups (and small foreign investors) are keen to see unrestricted exploration immediately, and so advocate complete lifting of the Moratorium in all parts of Bougainville. But many others remain suspicious or uncertain about, or opposed to, unrestricted exploration and mining development.

That, to my mind, is another good reason for proceeding gradually, by partial lifting. Then, when the very necessary, and highly important arrangements are in place for the grant of community mining licences and for inviting international tendering for exploration licences in selected highly prospective areas, we can review the situation again. We can then consider further lifting of the Moratorium.

Mr. Speaker, in summary, I recommend:

  1. Partial lifting of the Moratorium, in relation to grant of reconnaissance licences, artisanal licences, and quarry leases, for the whole of Bougainville;
  2. Partial lifting also in relation to grant of exploration licences, mining leases, leases for mining purposes and mining easements, initially restricted to two or three specific areas of Bougainville;
  3. Amending the Bougainville Mining Act:
  1. to clarify that partial lifting of the Moratorium by reference to categories of tenement is permitted;
  2. to restrict the number of small-scale mining leases that can be in operation at any one time.

This suggested approach to lifting the Moratorium and making minor amendments to the Act would allow most Bougainville mining interests access to minerals through artisanal licences. It would see continued protection against establishing many open cut and underground mines. That was the original aim of the Moratorium. It continues to be an important aim.

CRITICS

Lifting of the mining moratorium on Bougainville has hoodwinked the majority of people on Bougainville.
In March 2016, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), knew that the decision on the future of the mining moratorium on Bougainville was a major concern and “that there should be wide public debate on the issues involved”.

This was reiterated again as stated by Patrick Nisira, Vice President of the ABG in his public leture on 28 April 2016 in Canberra.
Yet in his next breath, Patrick Nisira advises, “but we don’t have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation program”.
Instead, the decision to lift the mining moratorium was done without the majority of people on Bougainville even knowing, therefore, appears they were deliberately left out of the decision.

They have been intentionally ignored on purpose to allow BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) and Rio Tinto to return to Bougainville.
So, if BCL returns to operate the Panguna mine, like it did in the past, will BCL and Rio Tinto be providing payment and compensation for the deaths and destruction it caused under the unfair Bougainville Copper Agreement?

The National,Thursday June 9th, 2016.

By FRANCIS PULU
ONLY time will tell when the Panguna Mine will be reopened after the Autonomous Bougainville Government House of Representatives lifted the mining moratorium in Parliament session on Tuesday.
Member for Hagogohe Constituency, Robert Hamal Sawa told The National that the decision was done in consultation with the people who agreed that the moratorium be lifted.
Sawa said the next task was for the Bougainville Executive Council, Bougainville Copper Limited, Government and the Panguna landowners to negotiate on how well the mine would operate in accordance with the new Bougainville Mining Act.
He said as the lifting was constitutionally amended, one condition of the lifting was for the Panguna Mine to be reopened.
“We decided that for the moratorium to be lifted and for Panguna Mine to operate again, only BCL will be allowed back because they know the operation back then,” he said.
Sawa said they did not want to engage another company apart from BCL which did not understand the situation in Panguna. For areas that have minerals, it was up to the resource owners to organise and decide which mining activity either in alluvial or exploration should take place.

 

Bougainville Mining News: What does the blanket lifting of the mining moratorium really mean to the Bougainville people

mining

 “Are we preparing our people for the advent of mining or are they just going “get in the way” again as usual?

A large number of educated elites support leanings towards mining without broader understanding of it’s impact on people other than themselves who stand to gain through employment or otherwise “

Comment from Chris Baria , Arawa

Friends, citizens, fellow country men and women. I am here to express my utter dissatisfaction and discontentment with the way ABG and a select group of people are leading us blindly into the teeth of a storm. Some months ago a Mining Law was passed in the ABG House of Representatives.

Few days ago there was a blanket lifting of the moratorium. With it we have surrendered our last bastion against the onslaught of corporate might that has taken over democracies through out the world. How strong, how capable and how well resourced is ABG to contain such might?

Many of us think this is some airy-fairy theory. Many of our leaders and people in the village do not understand that the world out their had changed so much while we in the “dark ages” of the crisis.

Today, big businesses control much of what use to be known as the “free-world”. There is a new form of government masquerading as democracy where government conspires with powerful corporation to liberalize the economy and the public sector for a takeover by these corporations.

It is called “Corporatocracy”

Thanks to the Internet where we can always go to sites that give us the other side of the coin so that we are not misled to believe all the lies dish on television, newspapers and other media for the benefit of the government and its cronies.

I am further sadden that the quest for wealth has taken over the initial cause that we went to war for.

They are telling us that the crisis was a bad call and it shouldn’t have happened. So what happened to the heroic stance that people of Bougainville took against all odds to defend themselves, their land and environment for the future generations against an unscrupulous mining giant that was tearing up the mountains and valleys leaving communities landless and penniless.

We were hailed around the world as the first ever indigenous victors against a world class mining company.

Australian Government sat on the fence hoping that these pathetic poorly armed kanakas would be put in their place. It shamelessly supplied arms and helicopters to claiming that it was part of some defense cooperation program. It was a disappointment and maybe embarrashment for them in the end.

All these efforts were for nothing but reopening of the mine at Panguna.

ABG denies (or tries to) that Mining Law and Moratorium lifting are aimed reopening Panguna when we have BCL management singing a different song.

ABG claims that the people through out all of Bougainville have agreed to the blanket lifting of the moratorium. I have no problems with that.

My question is, do we sincerely believe majority of our people know what a “moratorium” is or what we mean by “blanketing lifting?”

Do they know what they are agreeing to?

The Sioux, Apache, and Cherokee indigenous people defeated rather annihilated US 7th Calvary at the battle of Little Big Horn. Today, this once proud, brave and noble people live in Reservations around USA. A people reduced to rubble by a government that they looked up to and trusted after they signed a treaty not knowing what they were doing.

One of the key requirements for referendum is total disarmament. During May 17 celebrations I was not in Bougainville but I am told that people are heavily armed. Assault rifles, grenade launchers and machine guns enough to dissolve the PNG parliament were openly displayed on that day.

So why are this people totting such toys when they should be happy that BCL or whoever is going to come and mine minerals is going fill up their houses with wealth while they seep Champagne on ice by the roadside?

Are these the people who have agreed to lifting of blanket moratorium as we are told? Seriously are they expecting trouble? What do you think?

Over a period of time I have come to realize that life is more exciting when people say one thing and do another. Great novelist sell their work because protagonists are liars. Yes we were led to believe we were fighting to close the mine and for something call independence which allowed us to mind our own business.

Yes we all sacrificed our nice jobs, our salaries, our medical benefits, school fee subsidies and because we looked out the window and saw that we had left our people behind when we got on the bus.

The very people who preached bleached white freedom now have come down with severe case of amnesia. They can’t remember all that “I am for you” messages they the imparted to us.

Just how much money does the Autonomous Region need to operate without politicians dipping their dirty fingers into the national coffers?

Have we set up industries that will act as a buffer in our economy when price of copper and gold drop below our belt?

Are we preparing our people for the advent of mining or are they just going “get in the way” again as usual?

A large number of educated elites support leanings towards mining without broader understanding of it’s impact on people other than themselves who stand to gain through employment or otherwise.

We cannot pretend that we are westerners. We come from a world where groups interests are more important than individual. We belong to a extended family, clan and an area or ethnic group. This are the things we must consider before we make decisions that may clash with our way of life.

Seek to find deeper truth, let’s be honest with ourselves, if we are to gain respect from those who seek to do business with us. Maski crawl olsem kuka painim moni na glory.

 

Thank you.

Bougainville Mining News : BCL restates at AGM commitment to mining in Bougainville

eight_col_Panguna_1

“The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial. In early April management joined a business delegation to Buka where there was an opportunity to meet with the President and a number of ministers as well as business leaders. Support for BCL was strong among the group we met.

That is not to say there isn’t some opposition and challenges. A letter addressed to me from a group of ex-combatants and one to President Momis in reaction to the ABG debating the lifting of the moratorium on exploration and mining outside the BCL area suggests there are some vested interest groups who oppose the return of BCL as well as opposition to some mining related Government policy.”

The chairman and managing director of Bougainville Copper Ltd, Peter Taylor, says the company remains committed to its vision of sustainable mining there.

See Chairman’s Address below

He told the annual meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday that they are happy at the growing strength of the company’s relationships in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region.

BCL’s closed Panguna mine was at the centre of the violence that tore Bougainville apart in the 1990s.

The Bougainville Government is keen for a resumption of mining and Mr Taylor says the company has had positive engagement with many local interest groups, including landowners, in the Panguna area.

bcl-logo

Chairman’s Address to 2016 AGM – Full transcript

On 1 June 2016 Bougainville Copper Limited held its Annual General Meeting at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The AGM provided an opportunity the Chairman Mr Peter Taylor to make a statement concerning the up to date affairs of the company and the following is a transcript of that speech in its entirety. A PDF of the address with slides from the presentation can be downloaded here.

Financial Results

The results for the year ended December 31, 2015 as reported in the Annual Report, recorded a loss after tax of K 37.9 million. A tax expense of K31.4 million was expensed as a result of resolution of a previously reported tax case. The loss of K37.9 million compares with an overall loss of K175.7 million in 2014 which included an asset impairment charge of K166.6 million.

Revenue from interest and dividends from investments was K4.8 million compared to a budget of K5.0 million.

Operating expenses were K11.3 million compared to a budget of K13.6 million reflecting scaling back of work programs driven by tenure uncertainty.

The company will not pay a dividend.

The company has sufficient funds to cover its recurrent expenditure under the current three year plan and is debt free.

Liquid Assets and Investment Strategy

At the end of 2015 the company’s liquid assets were K29.5 million in cash and $A 50.0 million (K108.9 million) in Australian listed equities. The company’s investments are linked to the performance of the Australian equities market.

Governance

Bougainville Copper has governance reporting obligations to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).  A statement on the company’s compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is contained within the annual report.  In addition, the company complies with Rio Tinto’s comprehensive range of policies including safety, environment, financial management and other governance practices.

Safety and Risk Management

Bougainville Copper is particularly safety conscious and has in place a comprehensive set of safety standards to ensure that it provides a safe working environment and that its employees and contractors comply with best practice safety procedures.  The company complies with the requirements of the Rio Tinto safety policy.

The management of Bougainville Copper undertakes regular risk reviews.  The aim of these workshops is to identify risks and opportunities facing the company, and to allocate responsibility for each to a member of the management team.  The company has ensured compliance with its own policies.

Bougainville Copper Foundation

Bougainville Copper has continued to support the work of the Bougainville Copper Foundation. This is an independent, “not for profit” company that has been funded by Bougainville Copper since its inception.

In 2015, as in previous years, the Foundation had more than 100 Bougainville students on scholarships. Many are continuing to be supported in 2016.

The Foundation also undertakes “special projects” on a needs basis with the emphasis placed on education, peace and good governance.

The Foundation is proud of its achievements and those of its former scholars who are contributing to the development of Bougainville.

Rio Tinto Review

On 18 August 2014, following the announcement of the proposed new Bougainville Mining Act, Rio Tinto announced a strategic review of its shareholding in BCL. The Rio Tinto review remains ongoing and the Board continues to engage with Rio Tinto regarding the status of the review.

Strategy

The company’s priority is to secure its tenement position and a sustainable social license sufficient to underpin any potential decision to proceed with mine study and development. The Board continues to proactively assess its strategic options.

Tenement Position

The company continues to maintain in good standing all tenements under the Bougainville Copper Agreement. In August 2014 The Bougainville Government passed what was titled an interim mining act that among other things purported to cancel all of BCL’s mining tenements held under the BCA (SML1, 7 ELs and associated leases for mining purposes – about 67,000 hectares) and replaced the special mining lease (SML1 –  3770 hectares) with an exploration licence (EL1). To preserve optionality, BCL has prepared applications for additional tenements it will need for the potential redevelopment of the mine.

Government Relations

The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial. In early April management joined a business delegation to Buka where there was an opportunity to meet with the President and a number of ministers as well as business leaders. Support for BCL was strong among the group we met.

That is not to say there isn’t some opposition and challenges. A letter addressed to me from a group of ex-combatants and one to President Momis in reaction to the ABG debating the lifting of the moratorium on exploration and mining outside the BCL area suggests there are some vested interest groups who oppose the return of BCL as well as opposition to some mining related Government policy.

Community Relations

The company has had positive engagement with many of the local interest groups from the project area, including landowners. Bel Kol is part of this process. Preparations for Bel Kol are continuing.

The relationship with landowners is mainly positive and agreement has been reached to settle long-standing claims relating to the year following the suspension of mining operations. While there are some landowners opposed to reopening the mine for a range of reasons there appears to be a clear majority in favour of redevelopment.

Throughout the year, company management maintained its own fruitful dialogue with a wide range of Bougainvillean interest groups, through regular meetings at Buka, Arawa and Kieta, with landowners, ex-combatants, women’s groups, ABG agencies, aid donors and other stakeholders.

There is a wide range of interests, and we are trying to listen to them all.

Tailings and Mining

Since mining was suspended the company has not had access to the former mine and tailings area. I have received reports that in addition to artisanal mining there is now industrial scale reprocessing of former mine tailings.

Events on Bougainville

Although there is continuing growth in commercial activity throughout Bougainville, the Autonomous Region is still very dependent on funding from the National Government and aid donors.

The date for the referendum has been set for June 2019. The National Government has committed support to fund the referendum preparations.

It is important that the long term regime for Bougainville is determined so the company can factor this into its studies for potential redevelopment.

Conclusion

Reports and commentary on company activities are regularly reported to the Australian Securities Exchange and associated media, and can also be accessed on our website.

In conclusion, the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains. The company is well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe a majority of the Bougainville people, who will soon participate in a referendum on Independence, clearly see the importance of economic self-sufficiency that could potentially be provided by mineral resource exploration and development.

 

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Bougainville News: People, not international mining companies, must benefit: Kauona

Sam

“Bougainville has the potential to drive its economic capacity forward after the proposed referendum in 2019,

To boost economic development in Bougainville, its leaders must work towards one common purpose – to target the mineral resource industry and other important sectors which can generate revenue.

The onus lay with the Autonomous Bougainville Government to lift the mining moratorium so that the people could partner potential explorers.”

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kauona.

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests;

Former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen, Lindsay Semple, and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd (or BCL) and its 53 per cent majority shareholder, Rio Tinto.

PUBLIC LECTURE in Canberra  by PATRICK NISIRA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

The lifting of the mining moratorium will be discussed when the ABG meets next month. Kauona said the Bougainville resource owners representative committee had been formed to encourage locals to enter partnership deals in the industry.

“We are encouraging locals who have minerals to register their groups and negotiate with potential explorers,” he said.

Kauona said it would also stop Rio Tinto or the Bougainville Copper Ltd from resuming operation in Bougainville.
“The old mining lease gave the right to Rio Tinto and BCL to own every mineral which the locals did not benefit from. And that is what we don’t want,” he said.

Kauona accused Rio Tinto and BCL of not compensating the lives lost during the civil crisis.

The National
Copyright © 2016 The National Online. All Rights Reserved

Bougainville News : Historic referendum decisions reports Momis after JSB

JmoThe outcomes of great significance involved preparations for the Bougainville Referendum. It must be conducted before mid-2020.

“In a series of meetings over recent months, a joint team of officials developed proposals for: establishing an independent agency to conduct the referendum; a target date of June 15th 2019 as the date for holding the referendum; a detailed work program of activities and associated funding needed to prepare for the holding of the referendum; a set of basic messages to be covered in an initial joint awareness program about the referendum. The JSB endorsed these proposals.

Chief John L. Momis President Press Release

“I’m very pleased with these decisions. Although the date for the referendum cannot yet be finally set (because of various legal steps required to be taken first), it would be impossible to plan the referendum without a target date. With that date now agreed, we can plan the steps required to hold the referendum, and the time and the funding and personnel needed to carry out each step.

“Equally pleasing is the National Government commitment to provide the funding needed to carry out the referendum preparations, beginning with the 2017 National Budget.

“The steps necessary to establish the independent agency that will conduct the referendum have been agreed. The two Governments are committed to it being established before the end of 2016. The PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission are already cooperating closely in developing the agreement, administrative arrangements and the charter required by the Peace Agreement and the Organic Law on Peace-building in Bougainville for establishing the Independent Agency.

“The joint agreement on these and related issues is a huge step forward. It demonstrates once and for all the total commitment of the Papua New Guinea Government to full implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the associated Constitutional provisions.

“As a result, there should no longer be any doubt amongst Bougainvilleans about whether or not the referendum will be held. I know some factions and individuals have retained weapons because of suspicions that the National Government would refuse to hold the referendum. But with the historic JSB decisions on 20th May, those suspicions must end. As a result, all Bougainvillean groups must now work towards achieving complete weapons disposal.

“I now call for full disposal of weapons by the Me’ekamui Defence Force elements, the armed groups associated with Noah Musingku at Tonu, and various former BRA and BRF members and groups that have retained weapons.

“Only with full weapons disposal will Bougainville be able to be referendum-ready. The Bougainville Peace Agreement requires that the Referendum be free and fair. Without weapons disposal, there will inevitably be doubts about the referendum being free and fair. There are already Bougainvilleans saying that they will not vote if weapons remain. The legitimacy of the result will always be in doubt if weapons remain.

The President said that he was impressed by the clear commitment of the Prime Minister and other ministers to implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement. He said: “Once again, Papua New Guinea is providing a lead to other countries that have experienced violent conflict. It shows that the commitment to achieving peace by peaceful means, evident ever since the Bougainville peace process began in 1997, continues to flourish in Papua New Guinea.” He said: “I salute the Prime Minister for his very positive contribution to this historic outcome.”

 

Bougainville News : President Momis Opening JSB -Statement from JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY May 2016

m and o

“But Bougainville is not being treated as a government with constitutionally guaranteed autonomy. Too often we are regarded as just another provincial government, or a department. When it comes to calculation of grants, National agencies believed they can make arbitrary decisions about the ABG. They ignore what the Constitution requires.

This must change. If it does not, then the ABG will begin challenging breach of the Constitution in the courts.

Understanding of the Peace Agreement and the National Constitutional laws that give effect to the Agreement is absent. The high turnover of both politicians and senior officials since the Peace Agreement is an issue here .Almost no one in the National Government structures was involved in negotiating the Agreement. So perhaps it’s not such a surprise that many do not understand the big difference between autonomy and a provincial government.

I fear sometimes that this failure to understand the ABG as a truly autonomous  government is part of the reason why even the JSB is not working well.

The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.”

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 

JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY, 20 MAY 2016

OPENING STATEMENT BY

HON. JOHN L. MOMIS, PRESIDENT AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

On behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, I welcome all members of the two, delegations – the National Government and the ABG – as well as all observers or guests.

In particular, I acknowledge, and welcome the presence of the Honourable Peter O’Neill,  Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and other Ministers in attendance, and of course, Hon. Joe Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, to whom I offer a special welcome to this his first JSB meeting as Minister.

Colleagues, I must begin by reminding all of us that the reason that we are here is that we are implementing a peace agreement – an agreement negotiated with difficulty to end a violent, bloody and destructive conflict in which thousands of people died – people from not only Bougainville, but also from elsewhere in PNG.

In that context I must make brief comments on the importance of the roles of the JSB.

Download or Read ABG LEADERS’ JSB PREPARATION BRIEFING

Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

In both the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the National Constitution, the JSB is dealt with under the heading ‘intergovernmental relations’. That means relations between two separate governments.

The JSB is by far the most important institution for handling relations between the National Government and the ABG. The JSB has three main functions:

  1. To enable the two governments to jointly oversee implementation of the Peace Agreement, including both the autonomy and referendum arrangements; and
  2. To provide a forum for consultation between the two governments; and
  3. To help resolve disputes between the two governments that cannot be resolved by consultation between the relevant agencies of government. If the JSB cannot resolve a dispute, it can be referred for mediation or arbitration, and ultimately to the courts.

These are all important functions, including the one so far not used – that of dispute resolution. I hope very much that what we agree today means that there continues to be no need to use the dispute settlement arrangements.

The constitutional provisions on the JSB underline the fact that the ABG is a constitutionally established and highly autonomous government. It is very different to the provincial governments elsewhere in PNG. It is different in terms of powers, funding arrangements, and intergovernmental relations.

See Above Quote

For example, the procedures for the JSB agreed by us under Constitution say the JSB must meet at least twice a year. But in the last five or six years, it has not met even once a year on average. When it does meet, the officials try to deal with everything in advance, and treat the JSB as a rubber stamp.

I am sure, that, as usual, a group of National Government officials has produced the draft resolutions that they expect us to sign. That is not acceptable. The JSB is the forum for leaders from both sides to engage directly, and deal with issues. We are not a rubber stamp for what the officials think should happen.

The JSB must return to being the critically important forum for exchanges between governments. I will return to that issue before I finish these remarks.

The Constitutional roles of the JSB underline the importance of the two governments working together to implement the Peace Agreement in full.

Such cooperation is essential if the Peace Agreement is to work as was intended when it was negotiated. It is sometimes forgotten that the Peace Agreement was negotiated to end the worst conflict ever to have occurred amongst Pacific Island people.

We must remember that purpose of the Agreement, or otherwise there will always be a grave risk that violent conflict will begin again. A renewed war would have terrible impacts, for not only Bougainville, but also the rest of PNG.

It is vital that the two governments to work together. After all, as we used to say often, when the Agreement had just been negotiated, it is a joint creation. It involves both the PNG Government and the leaders of Bougainville. Both should have a deep interest in all issues about the Agreement, and in its full implementation.

You will all be relieved that I’m now turning my attention to the issues on the agenda for this meeting. My comments will be brief.

The first issue I want to mention is the calculation of the Restoration and Development Grant. The issues here are of the greatest importance to the ABG.

The ABG has two main immediate concerns here. First, we are almost completely broke. It’s now almost five months into 2016. But so far we have received no funding at all under the 2016 Budget. The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.

So we agreed to resolve the differences over calculation method by getting independent legal opinions. In the meantime, the National Government agreed to pay the arrears at K30 million per year over three years. Future annual RDG payments were supposed to be based on their calculations – an RDG of at least K29.5 million per year.

But what happened? A K30 million arrears payment in the 2015 budget was never paid. The annual RDG for 2015 was set at only K15 million, but only K10 million was paid, and it was received in 2016. No provision for arrears was included in the 2016 budget. The annual RDG for 2016 in the budget is only K10 million.

So – the Constitutional Laws are being ignored. National Government promises of payment endorsed by the ABG have not been implemented.

This must change.

We need agreement here, today, that all arrears promised in 2014 are paid immediately, together with the additional arrears in underpayments in the 2015 and 2016 RDG amounts.

The second  RDG issue is that we must resolve, once and for all, the issue about calculation of the RDG. I want agreement here that we will jointly go to the Supreme Court to resolve our differences about that issue.

Our goal here is not to force the National Government to pay all the arrears that we think are due, or to force payment of impossibly high annual RDG figures. We understand the fiscal crisis that is facing the country. We will be reasonable. But we do need to agree what the Constitution requires. And we need a clear commitment that the Constitution will be followed.

The next agenda I want to mention is the Special Intervention Fund – the SIF. The SIF is important. It shows National Government commitment to restoring and developing Bougainville. But all sorts of problems are arising. Some National Government leaders are constantly claiming the SIF is being misused by the ABG – there are even claims of corruption. Just as the Prime Minister say he will not resign on the basis of allegations made without evidence, I ask for the evidence of our abuse of the SIF. There have been audit reports and other evaluations of the SIF. They do not support such allegations.

More important, there are now three new unfunded projects approved by the Central Supply and Tenders Board, without prior JSB approval. WE need to know, here, today, where the funding for those projects will come from.

Next, is fisheries. We hope to sign an MOU here on fisheries funds and powers. Under the Peace Agreement, the ABG is entitled to receive from NFA all fisheries revenues derived from EEZ, Continental and territorial waters associated with Bougainville, less costs of collection. All such revenues collected since 2005 are payable to the ABG. For many years, we have been asking NFA for the data on the revenue received. They have failed to provide that.

Now NFA offers an MOU, under negotiation for several years, with an annual ‘good-faith’ payment of K5 million. The MOU was originally to be signed in 2014. If it had been, we would have received K15 million by 2016. But here we are with an MOU to sign that just offers K 5 million for 2016.

I want clear agreement here, today, that the K15 million will be paid by NFA, by mid-June 2016. In addition, all the data on revenue and costs of collection must be provide by July.

There are other issues on the agenda. In addition, there are many key ABG agenda items about which we have prepared papers, but most of which have not been included in the agenda produced by NCOBA from the JTT meeting.

They include:

  1. Second Autonomy Review (PNG and ABG Chief Secretaries)
  2. Implementing PNG Constitutional Laws Implementing the      Bougainville Peace Agreement (ABG)]
  3. Fisheries issues:
  4. Merging Bougainville Treasury function into ABG Finance Dept.
  5. DSIP and PSIP, and ABG laws implementing autonomy.
  6. Implementing ABG “Foreign Relations” Functions
  7. National Government Representation on Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee
  8. Reviving JSB Role as Key Autonomy Oversight Body
  9. Strengthening Bougainville Police Service 

The ABG asks for those matters to be added to this agenda.

With those comments, I will bring my opening remarks to an end. I wish us all a productive and cordial engagements in this JSB meeting.

Thank you one and all.

See for details Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

Content Page

 

ABG’S PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS. 4

  1. A) ISSUES FOR JSB DETERMINATION AND ENDORSEMENT.. 6

AGENDA 1. A: KEY ELEMENTS OF REFEENDUM PREPARATION.. 7

AGENDA 2 – SUBJECT: ABG REVENUE GENERATION.. 9

AGENDA 2.A. – SUPPORT FOR ABG SPONSORED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. 9

AGENDA 2.B:DEVELOPMENT OF KANGU GROWTH CENTRE. 11

AGENDA 2.C : ABG DRAWDOWN OF POWERS TO COLLECT ALL PNG TAXES IN BOUGAINVILLE. 12

  1. ISSUES FOR JSB DELIBERATIONS. 14

AGENDA 3 SUBJECT: SECOND AUTONOMY REVIEW… 15

AGENDA 4 – SUBECT: 19

AGENDA 5: ISSUE/DISPUTES ON FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR AUTONOMY. 22

AGENDA 5.A : RECURRENT UNCONDITIONAL GRANT: ARREARS AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 22

AGENDA 5.B : RDG CALCULATION – ARREARS, AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 23

AGENDA 5.C. – CONTINUITY AND SHORTFALLS IN SIF FUNDING.. 32

AGENDA 6 – SUBJECT: FISHERIES ISSUES. 36

  1. ISSUES FOR JOINT TECHNICAL TEAM MEETING DISCUSSIONS. 38

AGENDA 7 – SUBJECT: ABG FINANCE & TREASURY ISSUES: 39

AGENDA 7.A: CALCULATION OF IRC REMITTANCE TO ABG OF TAXES COLLECTED IN BOUGAINVILLE 2005-2016. 39

AGENDA 7. B: MERGING OF BOUGAINVILLE TREASURY FUNCTION INTO ABG FINANCE DEPT. 40

AGENDA 7.C: SERVICE DELIVERY MECHANISM AND LLGSIP. 41

AGENDA 7.D: DSIP AND PSIP AND ABG LAWS IMPLEMENTING THE AUTONOMY ARRANGEMENTS. 42

AGENDA 8 – SUBJECT: DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.A: OVERARCHING MOU – FACILITATING DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.B: IMPLEMENTING ABG “FOREIGN RELATIONS” FUNCTIONS UNDER THE BPA. 45

AGENDA 8.C: SUBSIDIARY LANDS MOU.. 47

AGENDA 8.D: ENVIRONMENT MOU.. 47

AGENDA 9 – SUBJECT:   NATIONAL GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATION ON BOUGAINVILLE SENIOR APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE. 48

AGENDA 10 – SUBJECT: REVIVING THE JSB’S ROLE AS THE KEY AUTONOMY OVERSIGHT BODY. 50

AGENDA 11: SUBJECT: NURTURING LAW ABIDING, STABLE AND PEACEFUL SOCIETY BY STRENGTHENING BOUGAINVILLE POLICE SERVICE AND NGO’S (CSOs & FBOs) HUMANITARIAN REHABILITATION PROGRAMS. 53

ATTACHMENTS. 55

ATTACHMENT I:  JOINT REFERENDUM TECHNICAL GROUP RESOLUTION.. 56

ATTACHMENT II: REFERENDUM WORK PLAN.. 58

ATTACHMENT III: DRAFT PNGEC-OBEC AGREEMENT.. 66

ATTACHMENT IV. 69