Thursday, September 12, 2019

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.

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