MAC: Mines and Communities

Bougainville Update

Published by MAC on 2006-11-28

Bougainville Update

ABG wants mining powers

The National

28 November 2006

THE Autonomous Bougainville Government will continue to push Waigani to transfer mining and petroleum powers to the autonomous region despite unsuccessful talks last week, Vice-President of the ABG Joseph Watawi said. Mr Watawi and the Bougainville Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) delegation held talks with Sir Peter Barter, the Minister responsible for Bougainville, before returning to Buka.

The ABG's push for these powers was criticised by the Panguna mine landowners, who accused the autonomous government, of failing to consult them on such sensitive issues.

The landowners also urged the ABG to make infrastructure and service improvement its priority, and not mining.

But Mr Watawi believed the transfer of those powers would make Bougainville more financially independent and speed up economic recovery on the island.

"Bougainville at the moment need such powers in order to establish and recover itself economically to restore basic infrastructural development in the region.

"And we hope that at the end of December, the National Government will transfer these powers to Bougainville," Mr Watawi said.

He said the delegation met with members of the National Government and held very important discussion concerning the political future of Bougainville.

He said agendas presented to the Government in the JSB meeting included the drawing of powers, ex-combatant payment, Australia to assist Bougainville police capacity, Bougainville peace process and the 2007 national budget.

He praised the Government for allocating K98 million in the 2007 budget for Bougainville.

He also revealed that a submission to revive the Bougainville Peace and Restoration office had been brought forward to the Government for consideration.

Mr Watawi said the office would be given a new name, the National Coordination Office, if it is approved by the Government

He said the office would be responsible for coordination development services and peace restoration programmes in the region.


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