News and Public Notices

The latest from across Bougainville

ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama Keynote Address at the 2022 Bougainville Trade & Investment Summit

I acknowledge the presence of the Vice President and Minister for Commerce Trade and Industry Hon. Patrick Nisira, Ministers and Members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Chief Secretary Shadrach Himata and our officials from the Bougainville Public Service. I also acknowledge the presence of the Bougainville business community and stakeholders who are also with us this morning.

Before proceeding I want to warmly welcome our visitors from outside of Bougainville who are also here to attend the inaugural Bougainville Internal Investment Summit in Arawa Town.

Let me begin by saying that Bougainville’s future as an independent sovereign nation is inevitable. There is nothing that can change the resolve of my government and my people from pursuing our ultimate destiny as an independent nation. It is a destiny reinforced by history and upheld by 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans who voted for independence in the 2019 Bougainville Referendum.

When I assumed the Bougainville Presidency in 2020 my primary task was to secure our political future through the Post Referendum Consultations with the National Government of Papua New Guinea. Nevertheless, I introduced my Six Point Strategy as the fundamental guide for the Toroama/Nisira Government’s development priorities in the socio-economic and political sectors. The emphasis of the Six Point Strategy is on;

1. Political control of Bougainville’s Destiny which is independence,
2. Economic Growth and Control,
3. Administrative Control,
4. Mobilizing Private Sector & Civil Society,
5. Long Term Vision & Planning and
6. International Relations.

Whilst Bougainville’s Independence Mission remains the primary objective of the Toroama/Nisira Government we are not ignorant of the fact that achieving fiscal self-reliance for Bougainville is important to laying the foundations of a new nation that is politically, socially and economically independent in the true sense of the word.

Our desire for political independence is only feasible if we have a robust economy that generates revenue for Bougainville through trade, industry and investments. This will in turn enable Bougainville to become fiscally self-reliant and ensure there is growth in all sectors of development.

Ladies and gentlemen, Bougainville is by far one of the most resource rich islands in the pacific. We have an abundance of natural resources with the potential for development in the mineral, agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries. Our potential for resource development presents a very lucrative opportunity for investors willing to invest on Bougainville and at the same time the Bougainville Government can capitalize on this opportunity to boost internal revenue.

Despite our enormous potential for economic growth there is still a significant disparity in Bougainville’s overall fiscal capacity. Since the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005, Bougainville has remained heavily dependent on a highly centralized intergovernmental funding arrangement from the National Government of Papua New Guinea. This funding arrangement for Bougainville is focused primarily on our capital expenditures; infrastructure development and recurrent programs in the health and education sectors as opposed to economic development programs. It is structured in a manner in which our expenditures outweigh our limited revenue earnings causing a considerable fiscal gap.

Closing the fiscal gap requires stringent policy measures and an innovative approach to improving growth in our economy. My government has introduced several reforms to improve our economic policies such as the 2014 Bougainville Inward Investment Act and encouraging more public investment in local industries. Emphasis has been placed on the development of our low hanging fruits and direct foreign investments in large scale industrial investments on Bougainville. If we had an effective tax collection mechanism, we could also institute a tax regime that contributes directly to internal revenue to reduce the fiscal gap.

My government is also deliberately investing in essential infrastructure such as energy, telecommunication, water & sanitation and transportation. These infrastructures will provide a conducive environment to encourage investor confidence and the growth of businesses.

Bougainville’s history demands that we create an economic model for an independent Bougainville that promotes sustainable development and trade. We are looking at sustainable trade and development that will generate not only economic benefits alone but social and environmental benefits for a longer term. A strategy to promote sustainable development and trade will be put in place to safe guard our environment, mitigate wastage and endorse the responsible use of our natural resources.

This economic model will ensure unprejudiced benefit sharing and the rights of our people are given the prominence and protected. Our people must be active and an integral part of any development process that will happen on Bougainville. Economic development cannot be sustainable if the people are not involved and their rights are ignored. My government is very conscious of this and it is something that our economic development policies take into account.

In the next two days much of your discussions will be focused around closing the fiscal gap and adopting a sustainable economic development model for trade and investment on Bougainville. This conference will give us an exact idea on where we have come from, where we are today and where must go in terms of developing an economic model for Bougainville that will generate sufficient revenue to support development and improve the lives of the people of Bougainville.

In light of the events that transpired at the Tonolei Harbour project I want to reassure our people and friends that it is an internal matter that is being handled by government in coordination with officials from Buin District and the landowners. My primary concern at his time is the welfare of the people caught in the conflict and preventing anymore loss of lives.

Once again I welcome you all to the 2022 Bougainville Trade and Investment Conference and officially declare it open. As the Vice President it made known last year; Bougainville is now open for business!

God Bless you all and God Bless Bougainville.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR

[ Back to News ]