Mr. Speaker, I rise today within the chambers of this honorable house to present my Ministerial Statement on several important developments that are currently taking place on Bougainville.
Mr. Speaker, I have made it clear time and time again that securing Bougainville’s Independence is the foremost priority of this government. As President, my conscience is clear when I am leading this government to ensuring that Independence for Bougainville becomes a reality. I believe many of you share my conviction. As a people, Independence remains the single most unifying factor for Bougainvilleans in all walks of life. So as a government we must set aside our differences and work together to truly articulate the wish of 97.7 percent of the people who want independence for Bougainville.
Currently the government is engaged in several important work as part of our Independence Readiness initiative. The signing of the Era Kone Covenant activates the next stage in our political journey to independence through the Constitutional Regulations. The Bougainville Independence Mission Advisory Team (BIMAT) is already working on a way forward to engage with our counterparts at the Joint Technical Team on this matter. We also have the Bougainville Constitutional Planning Commission beginning its work after the swearing in of its forty commissioners. There are also several high impact infrastructure projects underway such as the sealing of the Bougainville Highway and upgrade of several health and education facilities this year.
Mr. Speaker, as the Chairman of the Bougainville Constitutional Planning Commission I am happy to report to this honorable house that the we are currently engaged in a Civic Awareness Program throughout Bougainville on the work of the BCPC. The Civic Awareness is being carried out by the BCPC Secretariat headed by the Secretary for Law and Justice Kearneth Nanei and the Secretary for Bougainville Independence Mission, Stephanie Elizah.
The BEC endorsed the BCPC Secretariat to support the mandate of the Commission in providing technical advice & support, administrative support, and logistics & procurement arrangements. The BCPC Secretariat is formed by the Department of Justice & Legal Service and consists of technical officers such as Program Managers, Regional Coordinators, Finance Officer, Logistics & Procurement Officers, Awareness & Media Officers, and lawyers. The consultation by the commissioners will follow the civic awareness. I urge the members of this honorable house to encourage your constituents to listen to the awareness and to take part during the consultations of our constitution making process.
Mr. Speaker, last week we convened the Bougainville Leaders Symposium in Arawa Town. The Symposium was attended by all members of cabinet and their respective departments and agencies from the Governance Sector, Economic Sector, Law and Justice Sector and the Social Sector. From the ministerial presentations and our deliberations in the three-day symposium we recognize that there is an evident need for structural and policy adjustments within each sector and their respective departments and agencies. Many of these issues highlighted during the symposium are cross cutting and related to lacking capacity and financial constraints that have impeded progress and development in all sectors on Bougainville.
When I assumed the Bougainville Presidency in September 2020, I introduced my Six Point Strategy as the guiding principles for this government and each development sector. It has since become a policy document endorsed by the Bougainville Executive Council and the Bougainville House of Representatives. In fact, it covers all sectors of development on Bougainville to cater for this government’s priorities in the socioeconomic and political sectors.
These sectors play an integral role in Bougainville’s social and human development indicators. Improving these indicators depends on how we manage our resources and deploy them in each sector to best cater for the development of Bougainville and the people. At the start of my government, through a sector by sector approach each Ministry with their departments were required to implement the Six Point Strategy as a means to improving these indicators and making Bougainville Independence Ready.
Mr. Speaker, the implementation of the Six Point Strategy saw challenges as well as progress for every sector and the ministries and departments, each unique to their own environment. However, the commonality remains to be capacity issues and financial constraints. The Six Point Strategy also highlighted the need for changes in existing policies and current government structures. Addressing these challenges requires a plan that executes the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s vision for political sovereignty and improving the quality of life for all Bougainville citizens in the present as well as the future.
Our Vision is for a prosperous, educated, healthy and sovereign Bougainville by 2052. Through this vision we are now developing the Bougainville Vision and Strategic Development Plan 2052 which will be made up of our development objectives, strategies and financing plans to improve our key development priorities to achieve this vision. It will look at improving human development and capacity and focus on education and human resource development. It will emphasize on the provision of basic services to address the human needs on food security, shelter, health and security. Moreover, it will look at an overarching long term economic development plan for Bougainville.
The Bougainville Vision and Strategic Development Plan 2052 is part and parcel of my Six Point Strategy under Point 5; Long Term Vision and Planning. Its creation will be derived from the alignment of each sector’s plans and will be integrated into the Bougainville Vision and Strategic Development Plan 2052. Each sector’s priorities will be unique to its own needs and design to foster an effective governance system, improve peace, justice and security, generate economic growth with the introduction of high impact infrastructure development on Bougainville. The thirty-year plan is focused on independence readiness as well as the post-independence period where our independent government will work towards setting the foundations of all sectors of government for Bougainville.
Mr. Speaker, from the progress reports of the implementation of the Six Point Strategy by each Ministry and Department at the recent ABG Leaders Symposium, a synthesis report will be produced. This will give an all of government view on the progress that has been made by everyone since the introduction of the Six Point Strategy in 2020. This report will form the basis of the Bougainville Vision and Strategic Development Plan 2052.
The Bougainville Vision and Strategic Development Plan 2052 is being developed by the Bougainville Strategic Planning Secretariat. It will be endorsed by the Bougainville Constitutional Planning Commission before it goes through for consultations. The final draft will be presented to this honorable house for deliberation.
Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage our Ministers and Departmental Heads to continue work hard. We are at a transitionary phase from autonomy to independence where we are creating a new chapter for Bougainville. This requires us to be innovative and absolute in our commitment to Bougainville as we introduce new ideas, new ways of doing things and a new mindset that is focused on political independence that is complemented by socioeconomic growth. We all share a co-dependency in our existence as a people and government so we must work hard and collaborate at all sectors of development to ensure it is tangible and far reaching as possible.
Mr. Speaker at this juncture I would like to express my concern at the welfare and integrity of the members of this house. While it is not my role to police how each honorable member should conduct themselves my concerns are based on the recent actions by some members of this house. We have been called upon to serve our people and this government with integrity and accountability. I understand that there are times when we are frustrated at the lagging government processes to secure funds, improve development and provide for our people but that does not mean we act in a manner that compromises our roles as leaders. We all swore an oath to protect our people, serve the government and obey the constitution. Remember the ends do not justify the means just as no one is above the reproach by the law.
Mr. Speaker, we are all aware that the 2022 National General Elections have commenced. This will be the final election that Bougainville will take part in as we prepare for the final political settlement (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) in our quest for political independence. This election is very crucial to the future of Bougainville and who we elect as our representatives in the National Parliament will determine our future based on their loyalty to Bougainville and commitment to serving our wish for independence that was expressed in the 2019 Bougainville Referendum. I urge you all to vote for a leader who will not compromise our political resolve for Bougainville; a leader who is not afraid to stand within the halls of the National Parliament and fight for Bougainville’s Independence as a sovereign nation.
We need leaders who will not succumb to the pressures of party politics and comprise Bougainville’s Independence aspirations. We need leaders who can proudly say the word Independence without looking over their shoulder.
Mr. Speaker we all have our desired candidates for this election so I urge everyone to be respectful to the electoral process and vote wisely.
God Bless you all and God Bless Bougainville.
Mr. Speaker I commend this statement to the House.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR
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