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Bougainville Trade and Investment Conference ends on high note

The 2022 Bougainville Trade and Investment Conference ended today on a high note following intensive discussions over the last two days at the Sharp Memorial Youth Center in Arawa.

Over the course of the two days, experience-sharing and presentations were delivered by trade and economic experts on how Bougainville can narrow its fiscal gap and discussions held on creating and promoting sustainable trade and development for Bougainville.

ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development Hon Patrick Nisira said that the Conference provided the required forum for stakeholders to come together and critically talk about Bougainville’s trade and investment opportunities.

“I believe these two days have been very informative and encouraging as our discussions create pathways for each of us as stakeholders to participate and support the economic growth and development of Bougainville,” Nisira said.

Minister Nisira provided a summary of the two-day Conference noting specific actions that the government will undertake to further build on key economic reforms and guiding future government planning. This includes understanding the cost of services for Bougainville which was discussed during a presentation from the National Economic Fiscal Commission (or NEFC).

“As a responsible government we see the critical importance of understanding the real cost of running a soon-to-be independent sovereign country. We must understand and know in very clear terms and figures, of how much we need on an annual basis to run Bougainville and deliver the services that our people deserve,” he said.

Minister Nisira said the government needed this data to guide government decision-making especially in the allocation of funds to sectors, while also assisting the government to work towards a sustainable fiscal arrangement for Bougainville and called on relevant government agencies in the Bougainville administration to immediately facilitate this exercise for Bougainville.

Discussions were also shared on the different models of fiscal self-sufficiency, which Minister Nisira noted that understanding the different scenarios to operate as a self-sufficient administration is crucial saying that it would set the focus for Bougainville’s future planning and development agenda.

“I am confident that this term of government has started out on the right path to securing Bougainville’s future, through the investments undertaken for instance, the Bougainville Water Bottling, the Manetai Limestone project and others. Within the next two to three years we will be reaping the benefits of these investments or these "gardens” as has been our ‘tok piksa’ in this two-day conference,” he said.

Discussions also covered environment and climate change, noting areas for policy development relating to resource development and mitigating environmental effects.

Minister Nisira said that all discussions in the Conference will be considered in the development of Bougainville’s economic roadmap.

“Roadmaps must be clear as this will give certainty to the investors and the people of Bougainville, it will make all stakeholders responsible and accountable for their actions. Furthermore, these roadmaps will support the legislative and policy framework in the Region.”

“The Bougainville Trade and Investment Conference has provided an important forum to help us as a government and you as our stakeholders to understand our strengths, the gaps that exist and how we can collectively work together to make Bougainville become prosperous,” Nisira said.

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