Thursday, September 12, 2019

Government presents K22.5 million to Bougainville

PM's Media

The National Government today presented a total of K22.5million to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG)  for specific programs to be implemented by the ABG.

The cheques were presented by the ministers for Works Michael Nali, Fisheries and Marine Resources Dr Lino Tom and Bougainville Affairs Dr Sir Puka Temu.

Nali presented a cheque of K9.5million to the  ABG Minister for Works, Dr Tom presented K5million whilst Dr Sir Puka presented two cheques totalling K8 million.

The first cheque Sir Puka presented was a one of K6million to help the work of the Bougainville Referendum Commission of which K1.5m will go towards the referendum awareness and related programmes.

Sir Puka said the K1.5 was a commitment the ABG government made to help the Bougainville Referendum Commission but the National Government decided to help.

The remaining K4.5million is for other non electoral related work by the ABG and the BRC for security related processes.

Dr Sir Puka also presented a cheque for K2million towards the Arawa School of Nursing.

The K9.5million cheque presented by Works Minister Nali is to pay two contractors Covec and Dekenai to complete two road programs they are working on in Bougainville.

The K5million cheque by Fisheries Minister Dr Lino Tom was for related commitments as per previous JSB meetings that such funding be made to the ABG.
The presentations were made in the presence of Prime Minister Marape and President Dr John Momis.

PM Marape happy with Bougainville meeting

PM's Media

Prime Minister Hon James Marape says the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting on Buka Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) has reached mutual resolutions from both sides.

He said this following the conclusion of the meeting at the ABG President Dr John Momis' official residence.

 Prime Minister Marape and President Dr John Momis signing the resolutions of the JSB meeting today in Buka.

“Today let me thank the leadership of Bougainville under President Dr John Momis, that the JSB meeting reached mutual and fruitful resolutions from both sides of the house," Marape said.

“One of the best resolutions, and of greater importance in my view,  is to devolve some of the functions and powers of running the affairs of the region and that is to generate their own revenue.

“The National Government mechanism has to support the ABG to ensure that they are self-sufficient in revenue generation.

“We have had political independence but what use it is when our people don’t have money in their pockets.

“People must have money in their pockets and be economically and financially independent.’’

Marape said the just concluded JSB meeting consolidated some of those understanding.

“We have also resolved and had reached a resolution on the issue like the RDG,  or the Bougainville Restoration and Development Grants,  that the n
National government had to pay Bougainville as per  the Bougainville Peace Agreement," he said.

“It is not about the figure of money but is it about trust and understanding in working together.

“We have now reached an understanding on how we have to calculate how much we,  the National Government,  have to pay and the understanding is that we have had a shortfall of some K81 million.

“An independent assessment was made and we have reached a resolution that, both sides affirm the independent assessment that we have to pay K81million since 2001 when the peace agreement was signed.

“That is why when the National Executive Council-NEC met yesterday in Buka,  it resolved that we will have to give a ceiling of K100million funding annually over a 10 year period.

“That is to catch up on lost grounds but more importantly,  to make up for the losses we have incurred and to bridge the divide where after the crisis services came to a stand-still.’’

Marape also assured President Dr Momis that the National Government would help the ABG.

“We are here to help your ABG and this JSB meeting in Buka confirms that we are referendum ready," he said.

“The referendum writs will be issued on Sept 27 and our Cabinet meeting has confirmed that date.

“Voting will take place on Nov 23 and the counting will take place and the results will be made known.

"There will be a period of 40 days for if any there are any disputes to be made.

“But what has really transpired in this JSB is that a greater Melanesian way of consensus was reached.

“That is after the referendum,  both sides will sit again and talk and see the result and this is the way we should go.

“I believe in the Melanesian way of leaders to sit down and talk and reach amicable results.

“The National Government leaders  came to Bougainville not like bosses visiting subordinates, but as equals to talk to equal people here on Bougainville and find an amicable solution.

“This afternoon we have signed a resolution that is amicable to both sides.

“This is one of the quickest JSB meetings.

"Both sides admitted there wasn’t much issue and we arrived at what we see was amicable on both sides."

PM Marape addresses Bougainville meeting

PM's Media

Prime Minister James Marape has addressed the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting between leaders and technical officials from the National Government and Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) on Buka Island this morning.

President Momis and Prime Minister Marape at the meeting

 Marape said the National Government was committed to supporting Bogainville achieve a peaceful outcome from the referendum to be held in November.
He also proposed for a National Reconciliation Ceremony to be led by the Christian churches  from both sides.

Prime Minister James Marape addresses Bougainville House of Representatives

Buka Island
Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Wednesday Sept 11, 2019

Mr Speaker, President Dr John Momis, Ministers, Members of the House of Representatives, people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.

Prime Minister Marape and President Momis in Buka.-Picture courtesy of PM's Media Unit

Thank you for this opportunity to address this Honourable Bougainville House of Representatives.
But firstly let me acknowledge my colleague Members of National Parliament from Bougainville region who all continue to play a very balanced role in ensuring Bougainvillean issues are amplified in the context of national interest.
Our esteemed Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Sir Dr Puka Temu, we acknowledge your work and passion for Bougainville.
I acknowledge few dignitaries with us today,  the United Nations Resident Coordinator Mr Gianluca Rampolla,  and Ambassador of Republic of the Philippines Ambassador B Tehano and others.
I also acknowledge my colleague Cabinet Ministers of our Marape-Steven Government who are present here after our symbolic NEC meeting here in Buka.
My national ministers, with our Deputy Prime Minister Hon Davis Steven,  have shown commitment to Bougainville issues in many Cabinet meetings and our NEC meeting was no exception because we approved a 10-year infrastructure plan for Bougainville.
This infrastructure plan goes very much in line with our new vision to make our country and our region of Bougainville economically independent.
Almost 44 years ago, we claimed to have gain independence from colonial rulers over our land and resources.
 Yet, some legacies and shackles we are trying to get out of today as we speak,  point to us that both PNG and Bougainville are not truly independent from the perspective of economic strength.
Bougainville and the Crisis we had is,  in my simple view, an example of bad and sad legacies that our people in both side of Bismarck Sea had to live with.
This was due to political and economic structures that were not respectful of Melanesian values we inherited before 1975.
Mr Speaker, In my humble view, if our country is still dependent on foreign aid and grants, depends on borrowed money because our economy is not strong, then our claim as politically independent is of no use and utility.
For what use is political independence if our people and our different layers of government cannot translate money from their land in mineral resources, in petroleum and gas, in agriculture, in forestry and marine resources into actual cash to improve our people’s livelihood?
Mr Speaker, Just like in Bougainville where you have many languages, rest of PNG too have over 800 different languages and different cultures.
 The indigenous tribal people’s own land and resources,  yet, adequate transfer
of wealth to our people has not taken place as we do desire yet.
As an example, I speak of my entire Hela tribe spreading from Mul-Baiyer in Western Highlands to Enga, Southern Highlands to fringes of West and East Sepik,  and Western and Gulf provinces.
In these tribal regions of around a million people, who speak two common languages, oil and gas in Kutubu, Gobe, Hides, Moran and gold in Porgera have supported PNG with Ok Tedi since 1990 after Panguna closed.
Our people in those areas have same question to those of Bougainvilleans in the 1980s when resource were pumped out,  yet,  little is on their mother land in terms of goods and services and money.
Mr Speaker, today I come to your House of Representatives to firstly say sorry to you if National Government in Waigani has not fully recognised your ownership of your inherent rights over your resources:  principle in my view can never be compromised if we are to truly remain a country of a thousand tribes but still remaining united in diversity.
Bougainville continues to teach Waigani  how we must respect indigenous rights.
 I come here to hear you fully and moreamd also lend you not one hand of shaking hands but both hands to work.
And more work we must do.
We owe it to fallen past citizens and citizens of now and future of Bougainvill.
We must ensure improved infrastructure to sustain the economy of Bougainville and PNG.
Mr Speaker, We all know that there is much ground to cover in terms of trust and honouring outstanding work.
I am here to rebuild that trust capital by giving you resource support to ensure work is done, within the context of national affordability and Bougainville agreements.
Over the many years of many agreements, due to many factors, much remains unfulfilled.
My Government’s commitment is to fully ascertain that and work towards retiring not past commitments , but developing fully all enabling infrastructures to sustain all facets of modern diversified economy including my personal focus on agriculture and fisheries.
To this end Mr Speaker, I have the pleasure of announcing  our Buka NEC's approval of a K1 billion facility for the next 10 years to be apportioned K100 million every financial year for key economic enablers of the region.
 Economic independence must precede every other conversation, lest we forget rest of PNG and
Pacific neighbours around us who gained political independence but are still struggling economically.
Our National Government will make landmark legislative reforms that will unbundle resources locked in all corners of 462,840 square kilometres our country.
My new generations of national leaders, those who helped me change government, want to transfer resources to our people in provinces and you here in the special region of Bougainville.
In the case of Bougainville, our National Government will transfer full revenue raising powers to the Regional Government.
We will assist monitor your collections in fisheries, forestry, agriculture and other industries that you Bougainvilleans may choose to undertake.
Mr Speaker, today is but a function mark in a long story of Bougainville.
We look forward to continuing interphase more in the future.
Our JSP in Buin should address all relevant issues outstanding as we prepare for the final
leg of our 2001 peace agreement.
In the course of our referendum activities and vote, I encourage for us to rally the Melanesian consensus spirit of conversations that give us  peace and prosperity forever here in Bougainville and PNG.

Our Nation is a nation of many hundreds of tribe, in fact over a thousand tribes,  who each speak different languages.
Unity in diversity is the reason we are still together 44 years on.
In rest of PNG too, sometimes our tribal differences take precedent over our nation’s interests.
 I fear that too for you here in Bougainville.
Mr Speaker,  in such momentous occasions, let’s show the world that Melanesian consensus can provide answers to internal problems and I look forward to working with you all.
May I end with the passage of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:9 in which He says,  "Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called Children of God.
 Let’s make peace.
I am willing to give what belongs to you back to you in the context of national unity.

Thank you Mr Speaker,  for allowing me to address this Honourable house.
 Thank you all who work for peace and prosperity in Bougainville.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Bougainville growing agriculture for economic development

Australian High Commission

Around 87 per cent of Bougainvilleans are engaged in agriculture, either as smallholder commercial farmers or privately-run household plots.
Located in the foothills of the mountain range surrounding Arawa town, Sivuna village is dotted with small farming plots growing cocoa, fruit trees and vegetables.
Forty-seven-year-old Susan Paai has lived in the small village in the North Nasioi constituency of Central Bougainville her whole life.
The mother of three children has managed to support her family through earnings from a cocoa plantation and vegetable garden near her home following her divorce to her husband 10 years ago.

Farmer Susan Paai with cabbages grown on her land following fresh produce training supported by Australia and New Zealand in partnership with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

In early 2018, she took part in fresh produce training with 10 other women from the local area to learn new and more efficient farming techniques.

“I learned about cultivating the soil and composting and how to take control of pests,” Susan said.
“Seeds for cabbage, carrot, bok choi, tomato and lettuce were then shared amongst the group. We then worked as individuals on our land to grow the vegetables.”
Susan said everything she has grown has been successful, with enough produce for family meals and surplus to sell at the market to pay school fees and meet medical expenses.
Susan’s plot is one of 14 model farms established across Bougainville as part of a fresh produce initiative supported by the governments of Australia and New Zealand, in collaboration with the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
The first phase of the project developed the skills of DPI staff to establish model farms and use them as sites to train local people on the latest farming methods to improve production.
DPI’s cash crop officer Elmah Maxwell, is responsible for setting up farmer’s groups and model farms around Kieta District.

Farmer Susan Paai (left) and DPI’s Elmah Maxwell with seedlings in a greenhouse ready to be planted.

Following DPI training delivered by a New Zealand agriculture volunteer in late 2017, Elmah has since held a number of trainings and distributed seed packets to local villages, with four model farms established.
“The training taught us how to be trainers in fresh produce, using basic horticulture. We mainly learned about nurseries and organic composting – composting was a new thing for us. Composting fertilises the soil and is good for plants, and also helps to stop pests attacking the plants,” explained Elmah.
“The training has mainly targeted interested women. I saw them marketing their produce at the local market and asked them if they wanted to learn more about growing fresh produce. That’s how I contacted people.”
The next phase of the project will work with suppliers to address seed storages in Bougainville and provide specialised training in pest and disease management, with the dissemination of fresh produce information using radio to reach a wider audience.
Elmah also wants to provide more training in post-harvest handling and marketing to increase household incomes.
“We need to learn more about marketing, so farmers can package their produce and sell it in Port Moresby. There is big potential to earn good incomes from the growth of agriculture in Bougainville.”
Growing Bougainville’s agricultural sector is seen as a key avenue to drive economic growth in the region.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government, with the support of Australia and New Zealand, is making agriculture a priority to improve the quality and volume of local production for both domestic and international markets, while also making crops more resilient to insects, disease and extreme weather events.
With the production and sale of fresh produce dominated by women in Bougainville, there are also opportunities to strengthen household incomes, while contributing to economic growth.
As a successful farmer, Susan is keen to expand her crops and educate other women reliant on farming to support their families.
“In this village, many of us are widows or divorced, so women are doing farming on their own,” she explained.
“Most of the women around here are coming to my village and getting ideas to pass on skills to their own farmer groups.”

Cabinet meets on Bougainville

PM's Media

Prime Minister James Marape has arrived in Buka with his full  Cabinet for the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Buka in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville this morning.

Marape was welcomed by ABG leaders and was received by a guard-of-honour by the Bougainville Police Services and Correctional Service.

He and his delegation was accorded the Bougainville traditional welcome tsutsu ( washing of the feet).

Marape will chair the NEC at 1pm and later address the ABG House of Representatives at 2pm today.

Tomorrow he will head to Buin and overnight for the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting on Friday  at Buin Secondary School Hall with ABG President John Momis and both National Government and ABG officials.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

St John’s Lutheran Church in West Goroka celebrates 50 years


St John’s Lutheran Church in West Goroka, an urban church which has figured in the spiritual lives of many Papua New Guineans, this month celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Last month, while in Goroka, I bumped into resident pastor Grahamme Baital (pictured), who invited me to be present for the occasion.
Pastor Grahamme Baital

I have a long history with the church, starting from 1975-1977, when I attended Sunday School classes here.
Dad was the senior primary school inspector for Eastern Highlands at that time and a prominent layman leader of the church while mum was with the Gejamsaoc (women's group).
From 1998-2002, when my late wife and I were here, we were also part of the St John’s congregation.
There are many Papua New Guineans just like me who have passed through St John’s over the last 50 years.
“On Sept 29, St John’s is celebrating 50 years of serving as an urban congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea,” Baital said.
“The significance of the celebration is that St John’s was one of the pioneer urban congregations that was established in the days when urban ministry was not fully developed.
“It was established especially for a young, upcoming generation of Papua New Guineans, who were educated at universities, colleges and other institutions around the world.
“That was the purpose of building the congregation at that time.
“This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of this urban ministry serving young, educated, indigenous Christians of this nation.
“Many Papua New Guineans who have come to Goroka would have had the opportunity to come across this congregation, because at that time, there were not many denominations established in Goroka Town.”
Baital said the church had a long history and there was much to celebrate.
“Our celebration has the theme, ‘Appreciating the Past, Celebrating the Present and Envisioning the Future’,” he said.
“The organising committee for the event has organised three separate activities for the event.
“On Sept 27, we have an urban ministry seminar which focuses on developing concepts related to urban ministry in PNG context.
“We have guest speakers from Australia, including pioneer pastor and missionary Reverend Brian Schwartz and his son Nick, who was formerly here serving as a research officer with the Melanesian Institute, and is now serving as Asia-Pacific coordinator of the Australian church.
“We will also have Reverend Murray Thomas, who was one of the pastors here, and one of the vocal people to prioritise urban ministry.
“In today’s context, that would be relevant to the needs and aspirations of our people, especially members of the church.”
Sept 28 will feature a cultural day along with Thanksgiving, which is an annual programme of the church.
“We will have Christian brothers and sisters coming all the way from Simbang (Finschhafen), which is the original landing place of the Gospel of the Lutheran Church, as well as those from St Andrew’s Parish (Lae), and another group from Siassi which is my home district, as well as other cultural groups from Eastern Highlands,” Baital said.
“The theme is ‘Celebrating Christ in Culture’.
“On Sunday, we have the 50th Anniversary Service.”
Baital said many prominent Papua New Guineans would grace the occasion with their presence.
“We thank God for giving us this opportunity to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to appreciate everybody who’s been part of the church.”
Further information can be obtained from Baital on phone 73027023 or email, or chairman Himony Lapiso 71415527.