Bougainville results to be tabled in PNG parliament this year


– Bougainville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba says the referendum results will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.

“In accordance with section 342 of the Constitution, the minister responsible for Bougainville is required to table the results of the Bougainville referendum in Parliament for a decision.

“I will therefore be tabling the results of the referendum and the report of the post-referendum consultations to the Parliament before the end of 2023 after the procedures for tabling and decision of Parliament are put in place,” he said.

“The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) clearly stipulates that Bougainvilleans must be given an opportunity to indicate their preferred political future through a referendum “no earlier than 10 years and, in any case, no later than 15 years after the election of the first autonomous Bougainville government” (BPA clause 312 (a)).

“The referendum would provide ‘independence’ as one of the choices.

“The constitutionally guaranteed referendum was held in November 2019 and 97.7 per cent of participants voted in favour of the independence option.

“Although the people of Bougainville have voted overwhelmingly for independence, both the BPA and the Constitution require that National Parliament must make a decision on the referendum result.

“According to section 342 of the Constitution, (1) the Government and the Bougainville Government shall consult over the results of the Referendum and (2) subject to the consultation referred to subsection (1), the minister responsible for the Bougainville referendum shall take the results of the Referendum in Parliament and the speaker of Parliament shall furnish to the Bougainville Executive a copy of the minutes of the relevant proceedings and of any decision made in National Parliament regarding the referendum,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Government is in the process of transferring powers and functions that it can to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), Parliament was told Tuesday.

Bougainville Minister Manasseh Makiba told the House the prime minister had committed K1 billion (US$281 million) additional support to Bougainville over 10 years at K100 million (US$28 million) per year.

Transferred so far are powers and functions in relation to mining, physical planning, education, health, local level governments, arts, fisheries, time zone, and public holidays.

Those pertaining to public service, police, and village courts are partially drawn down.

All others are available as and when the ABG is ready for them.

In addition, the Government has transferred 36.47 percent of State equity in Bougainville Copper Ltd to the ABG free of charge.

The sharing of GST revenue was increased to 70/30 in favour of Bougainville.

Makiba said all state land in Bougainville, including land and properties owned by the National Housing Corporation and all agriculture leases have been transferred to the ABG.

The National Fisheries Authority entered into agreement with the ABG wherein K5 million (US$1.4 million) per annum is paid as revenue sharing for the harvesting of fisheries and marine resources.

Makiba said the Government now only retains those exclusive national functions such as foreign affairs, customs, immigration, defence, international civil aviation, central bank and currency, quarantine, telecommunications, foreign trade and investment and highly migratory and straddling fish stocks.

He said all conditions precedent to the Bougainville Peace Process had been completed and all that remained was for Parliament to conclude the process with the ratification of the Bougainville referendum vote.