PNG Government Said To Owe Bougainville $87 Million

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Development grant formulas not being adhered to: Minister

By Romulus Masiu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 1, 2013) – The National Government of Papua New Guinea owes the people of Bougainville K200 million in restoration and development grants as agreed under the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

An angry Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Minister for Finance Albert Punghau blasted National Government saying that by law ABG can take the National Government to court and has assured the people of Bougainville that ABG will just do that – it will take the National Government to court over the issue. "I’ve already spoken to President Chief Dr John Momis and we will definitely take them to court. Even though we have signed the BPA in good faith, we signed for the referendum, we signed for restoration development grant and we signed for the other monies and the National government is continuously and purposely delaying our money till today. You can know the politics of this thing, the ‘Cold War’ is still on, you have to be mindful and make the crucial decision and we open the Panguna Mine and have our own money," Mr Punghau reminded the people of Bougainville last week in Arawa.

The financial arrangement under the BPA stipulates that the PNG government has to provide grants to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). One such grant is the Restoration and Development Grants. The grant was introduced in 2005, with the first Bougainville House of Representatives getting K10 million. From then on the grant accumulated to K12 million and then to K15million. When the second Bougainville House of Representatives took office the figure is still locked up at K15 million till today. However, Mr Punghau highlighted that according to the formula of the BPA, this money K15 million must increase prorate as per increases of the public investment of PNG. To date this is not happening totaling to K188million owed to Bougainville.

This is just one example of the National Government’s uninspiring support and delay tactic that has prompted Momis-Nisira led government to set its sight on the re-opening of the Panguna Mine to re-build its economy and gain independence from PNG. "If the mine is re-opened Bougainville will be one of the richest places on earth with its 300,000 benefiting from billions from the copper-gold deposits at the Panguna pit," Minister Punghau said, adding that the responsibility of ABG is to provide the goods and services to its population as in the budget, at the same time build economy which it is not doing at the moment because of lack of financial capital. "Let’s kick-start the economy by re-opening the Panguna Mine, if the mine has given independence to Papua New Guinea, this is our money, why we give money to outsiders and now we are becoming beggars on our own land, when we can’t agree on the re-opening of the mine which is rightfully ours," Mr Punghau said adding that the budget is critical in relation to what the National Government of PNG is doing to Bougainville and its people.

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