I acknowledge the presence of our Ministers, the Chief Secretary and Heads of Departments. More importantly I acknowledge the presence of each member of the public service who are here today for the dedication of the Bougainville Public Service for the year 2023.
Just over a month ago we were all gathered together to give thanks for the 2022 Administrative Year of the Bougainville Public Service. My main message to you on that occasion was for you to use the festive season to reflect on your commitment to this government and your service to the people of Bougainville. I urged you to ask yourself this question; what can I selflessly do for Bougainville?
To answer this question, you first have to find your purpose in your role as a member of the Bougainville Public Service. This applies to our leaders as well as our civil servants. Having a greater sense of purpose will influence how we carry out our duties, how we set our goals and the definitive direction that we wish to embark on. In Bougainville the ultimate purpose fora civil servant is unique. We are all required not only to deliver basic services to our people but we are also required to empower them to realize our self-determination aspirations to be an independent sovereign nation.
Our sole purpose if you look at it from another perspective is nation building. This purpose calls for every single Bougainvillean in the public and private sectors to be innovative, to be industrious and above all to be committed to our Independence Mission.
Ladies and gentlemen, this unique purpose for Bougainville must have integrity to ensure we have a credible outcome in serving the best interest of our people. So it is important to remember that we must embrace values that promote morality, accountability, social justice and peaceful coexistence on Bougainville. Integrity in our civil service is important in the sense that it is the very foundation that we will build an enduring and prosperous Bougainville. Every one of us swore an oath to serve the people of Bougainville diligently and with honesty. It is a commitment that we must never waiver from andalways remain consistent with its principles if we wish to grow our economy, promote law and order and empower our people to actively participate in development.
In 2019, never before have our people rallied under one cause as we did for the Bougainville Referendum Vote. The overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism resulted in an overwhelming result of 97.8 percent of our people voting for independence for Bougainville. That unprecedented sense of pride and patriotism proved to Papua New Guinea and the rest of the world that our greatest strength lies in our unity as a people fighting for freedom and our rightful place in the world as an independent nation. That same sense of pride and patriotism must be instilledwithin our civil service. It no use boasting about the referendum results when we do not take pride in our work as civil servants and nation builders in our respective government departments.
The Bougainville Public Service has borne the brunt of ridicule and accusations of corruption by the general public and even from our political leadership. However, I believe that if our public service is continuously ostracized and accused of being corrupt and complacent it becomes susceptible to developing a mindset that is corrupt and complacent. Words are a powerful toolin conditioning the human mind.If we promote positivity then the outcome will be positive. By saying this I do not mean the public service is beyond reproach and that corruption is nonexistent. There are a lot of public servants who are committed to serving Bougainville. It is the few who continue to be disloyal and have no sense of responsibility that tarnish the good work by many hardworking public servants.
As President I want to encourage you all to begin this year differently. I want you to have purpose, integrity and a sense of great pride and nationalism in rebuilding Bougainville. As loyal Bougainvilleans we are all compelled by our people’s determination to be politically free by ensuring the Bougainville 2019 Referendum Results comes to fruition. It is time we realized that the being a member of our Public Service is not merely paid employment but a vocation to serve the people and government of Bougainville and delivering our Independence Mission.
This year my directive to the administration is simple; promote and improve our economic growth and improve law and order throughout Bougainville. These two priorities must be taken seriously by the administration and our economic sector departments primarily the Law and Justice Sector, the Department of Mining and Energy Resources, the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Finance and Treasury.
We have to realize that law and order and economic growth are codependent. Our economy cannot flourish without the stability brought about by enforcing law and order. This creates a conducive environment for our economy to grow. In the same manner law and order can only be enforced effectively if there is economic growth that earns revenue for the government to provide more funding to maintain consistency in law and order.
In the next two months we will be launching Bougainville Refinery Limited and the Bougainville Water Bottling company. These two new companies are initiatives of this government and will begin earningmuch needed revenue for Bougainville. It is time we stop looking at tax as the only viable revenue earner for Bougainville and start earning revenue that comes directly to the government from our investments.
An important economic development project that must get off the ground this year is the Cocoa Powder Processing Plant. Funding will be made available to set up the plant this year. The Ministry and Department of Primary Industries must take the lead on this project and ensure it is in production within the year.
This year will also see a significant increase in infrastructure development projects on Bougainville. We will be building more roads, hospitals and schools. Key programs that are already underway or will be carried out this year are;
- Final phase of the sealing of the John Teosin Highway.
- Continued upgrade and maintenance of the Kukul to Kohiso Road to complete the Buka Ring Road and prepare for sealing.
- Installation of Desalination Units and Micro Power Grids for the outer islands (Atolls).
- Construction of Pangara and Tawera Bridges in Bana District.
- Construction of the Kihili Teacher’s College
- Upgrade of the Arawa Hospital to Provincial Level.
- Upgrade of the Arawa School of Nursing
- Upgrade and maintance of feeder roads in cocoa intensive areas in each region.
These projects are linked to our independence readiness programs to improving the welfare of our people at the community level and promoting local economies through agriculture and other primary industries that our people are involved in. These projects will also improve the effectiveness of service delivery in the health, education and economic sectors throughout Bougainville. These are the targeted development programs as well as the other priorities of the government for this year so it is important that we achieve them within this timeframe.
Once again, to our leaders and the members of our public service, let’s begin this year right. In spite of our differences and the challenges we face, we have already proved to the world that our unity is our greatest asset as a people. Together we must adopt an optimistic disposition that focuses on serving our people and developing Bougainville.
Independence is our destiny!
God Bless you all and God Bless Bougainville.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR
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