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Critical issues for discussion between Bougainville & PNG

JSB meetingANTHONY KAYBING

BUKA - The long deferred Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting which brings together the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Papua New Guinea national government has been scheduled for 14-15 December.

Bougainville President John Momis at a special sitting of parliament last week said the meeting will focus on preparations for the province’s referendum on its political future in 2019 and other outstanding issues.

Referendum preparations will be the dominant issue with the need to operationalise the recently formed Bougainville Referendum Commission.

“We need to appoint commissioners, agree on an independent chair and put in place systems, processes and procedures to govern how the commission will work,” said Dr Momis.

Dr Momis stated there are many matters requiring the support and agreement of the PNG government.

He said the two governments needed to reach agreement on the question or questions to be put to the people of Bougainville at the referendum.

The meeting will also discuss criteria that will apply to non-resident Bougainvilleans voting in the referendum.

Another key matter the JSB will address is the failure by the PNG government to honour its constitutional obligations to make outstanding payments under the restoration development grant.

“By our estimates we are now owed more than K900 million and by the national government’s estimates more than K360 million,” Dr Momis said.

“The ABG is also owed significant arrears under the special intervention fund that should have seen a total of K500 million approved for high impact development projects.

“Only K299 million has been received with a shortfall of K201 million,” he said.

Other key issues include reviews of autonomy arrangements, peace building efforts, weapons disposal, fishing revenues and the continued drawdown of powers and functions.

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