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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape is confident that Bougainvilleans are ready to hold the referendum to decide their future on 23 November.
“And after the referendum, we can carry on negotiations in charting the future of PNG and Bougainville in a true Melanesian way,” he said.
Marape said he was happy with the outcome of the Joint Supervisory Body meeting on Buka Thursday.
“We have agreed to transfer the economic powers to ABG for them to generate their own revenue to sustain themselves.
“What is political independence when people don’t have money in their pockets to have confidence to make their own decisions?”
Marape said the meeting cleared any misunderstanding on the outstanding Restoration Development Grants (RDG) because money was not important but relationship and people were.
“We have now included the prescribed calculations as stated in the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.
“The national government has to give K81 million (US$23.8 million) in RDG to ABG. And so we will give K100 million (US$29.4 million) next year to make up for lost ground,” he said.
Marape said the K100 million would be paid annually over the next 10 years as “key economic enablers”.
“Economic independence must precede every other conversation,” he said.
“The rest of PNG and Pacific neighbours around us had gained political independence but are still struggling economically. This infrastructure plan goes very much in line with our new vision to make our country and our region of Bougainville economically independent.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Marape says there needs to be a national reconciliation ceremony between the Government and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville people.
He urged the PNG National Council of Churches and the Bougainville Council of Churches to take the lead in the national reconciliation process.
“We must also agree and ensure there is a heart to heart reconciliation process.
We can’t take for granted our people’s goodwill. People have given us their goodwill for leaders to work with.
“I am suggesting a church-led reconciliation process,” Marape said.
He urged leaders to ensure there was safety and security not only on Bougainville but in PNG as well.
“Internal security is our number one priority. There are guns and weapons among us and we need to ensure the weapons are disposed of” he said.
“The Bougainville Peace Agreement speaks of weapons to be disposed of so that the people can hold the referendum without any form of threat.
“Our Government intends to look into the issue of weapons in its totality. Weapons disposal has been one of the key fundamental pillars of the peace agreement.”
Marape told the Joint Supervisory Body meeting on Buka Island yesterday that the Government would support the wishes and aspirations of the people of Bougainville in determining their political future through the referendum.
“With 70 days remaining (to the referendum), we have to affirm our combined efforts on the outcomes as per the Bougainville Peace Agreement,” he said.
“We will ensure that every arrangement is in place and our national government is fully committed within the constraints of our resource envelope and ability to help Bougainville.
“We are giving you the fullest support and that there is no impediment along the way.”
Marape said the meeting on Buka was important to ensure that everything that needed to be done was done to ensure the outcome of the Bougainville referendum was successful and satisfactory.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
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