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Leaders agree to convene JSB in Bougainville

Prime Minister James Marape and Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama have agreed to convene a Joint Supervisory Body Meeting early this year in Bougainville.

The two leaders met last week Friday in Port Moresby to discuss matters about the Ratification, Intergovernmental Funding arrangements, and other matters concerning the development and political future of Bougainville.

The President and Prime Minister were accompanied by the Bougainville Attorney General Ezekiel Masatt, Minister for Internal Security and Regional Member for Bougainville Peter Tsiamalili Jnr, Bougainville Affairs Minister Manasseh Makiba and the Minister for ICT and Member for South Bougainville Timothy Masiu.

On the matter of intergovernmental funding, President Toroama expressed to the Prime Minister that he was only interested in funding that was constitutionally guaranteed to Bougainville.

President Toroama made particular mention of the Restoration and Development Grant which is funding that is at the Bougainville government’s discretion and its outstanding arrears that were still owed to Bougainville.

The President told Prime Minister Marape that emphasis on intergovernmental funding for Bougainville should be on the Restoration and Development Grant and tax remittance from internal revenue as opposed to other funding that was outside of the ABG’s purview.

It has long been a tendency for Bougainville to receive only a fraction of its annual budget funds from the National Government annually despite the National Budget showing Bougainville having the largest budget out of all the provinces.

In 2023 the ABG Budget had a K100 million allocation for RDG funding and another K100 million for the Prime Minister’s annual K100 million Commitment for Bougainville.

In reality, Bougainville received only K28 million for the 2023 RDG (Funding that can be controlled by the ABG) in stark contrast to K50 million for the PM’s Commitment (funding that cannot be controlled by the ABG).

President Toroama told the Prime Minister that any funding for Bougainville that was being controlled by the National MP’s and state agencies should be catered for outside of the ABG’s Budget and procurement process.

He explained that this would give clarity on Bougainville’s actual funds that is supposed to be utilized by the National Government.

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