PNG MPs Question Impact Of Funding To Bougainville

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Yearly grant must be spent on ‘high-impact project’

By Leonnie Wayang

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 20, 2015) – The Parliamentary Committee on Bougainville has been told there is nothing to show on the ground for the millions of kina the national Government spends yearly in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Speaking at the first consultative meeting with members of the committee, all four national MPs of the region told the committee there was a need to use the national Government annual grant of K100 million on high-impact projects that would change the people’s thinking so that they could concentrate on sustaining their livelihoods.

Regional MP Joseph Lera told the committee he is left out of the decision-making process in the ABG as there seems to be no role for him to play there as regional MP.

"They do not use the relationship effectively and include me in the BEC to contribute. Three times I have asked them. I cannot do what the other governors are doing. Even the national Government is not using me to be the bridge with the ABG," he said.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Steven Kama told the committee that the national Government did not provide funding when it granted Bougainville autonomy.

He indicated that it was one of the reasons why there was lack of performance by the ABG. "If they had funded the autonomy, we would have performed well," he said.

Mr Kama was critical on where the Bougainville government was spending its money, saying he wanted to know where all the money had gone to.

The four MPs told the committee on Bougainville, they wanted the national Government’s annual grant of K100 million distributed among them to fund projects that they would identify in their electorates. The Parliamentary Committee on Bougainville matters on Wednesday convened a hearing with the four MPs as part of a series of consultations on the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Committee chairman and Southern Highlands Governor William Powi said the meeting would assist the committee on Bougainville matters gain a better understanding on the peace agreement especially on autonomy, weapons disposal and referendum.

The committee is expected to have further consultations with relevant stakeholders and would travel next month to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

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