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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 21) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has pledged the National Government’s support to improve Bougainville’s economy.

Sir Michael made the commitment on Wednesday when he met with Autonomous Bougainville Government [ABG] President Joseph Kabui and Administrator Peter Tsiamalili in Port Moresby.

"Prime Minister Sir Michael has given a big undertaking and is willing to make a commitment with the understanding that he wants to see Bougainville come out of its poor financial situation in the next couple of years," Mr Kabui said on his arrival in Buka yesterday.

He said Sir Michael had made a major contribution to the ABG and had promised that the National Government will make sure Bougainville had funding available to boost the its economy.

Sir Michael had also promised to allocate the National Government’s share of 19.7 per cent from the Panguna copper mine to the ABG.

"A good discussion with the Prime Minister and us came up with the understanding that its share received from the Panguna mine will be transferred to the ABG," Mr Kabui said.

The President also met with Treasurer Bart Philemon and said Mr Philemon has shown commitment to help with ABG’s budget priority.

"The Minister told me from now on he will support Bougainville, which his department has failed miserably to do, and which he as a Minister hasn’t been committed," Mr Kabui said.

He said this year, PGK10 million [US$3.5 million] had been approved and he had already discussed with the Minister to approve the remaining K28 million [US$9.8 million] earmarked for Bougainville.

A total of K38 million [US$13.3 million] had been allocated by the National Government for the ABG.

Mr Kabui also said Mr Philemon had shown a commitment to help by funding infrastructural projects in the 2007 budget.

He had tasked Mr Kabui to identify three key projects in the region that should receive funding from this grant. Mr Kabui and Mr Tsiamalili also met with Mining Minister Sam Akoitai and Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Peter Barter for discussions.

April 24, 2006

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