The Autonomous arrangements for Bougainville have been described as positive.
However, there is also room for improvement – among these, the need for the effective use of knowledge, capacity and time.
These were points highlighted during a presentation of two draft research reports into Bougainville’s Referendum.
The research conducted by PNG NRI through its Bougainville Referendum Research Project.
According to PNG NRI Director, Dr Osborne Sanida, given that Bougainville is counting down to its date of referendum, these reports highlight some issues that the PNG NRI feel need to be given thought, by stakeholders both from PNG, as well as from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The report on Fiscal Autonomy was spearheaded by Professor Satish Chand.
According to Professor Chand, an immediate need for Bougainville is to increase the capacity to fund its own budget – regardless of the level of autonomy it has now, or may have following the referendum in 2019.
He said developmental taxation should be an option to consider – in an effort to broaden the tax base for Bougainville.
Professor Chand said given mining is still a controversial issue on the island, and that revenue from mining may take a decade to be realized, the Autonomous Region should be looking to fisheries or agriculture as one way in increasing internal revenue.
Also released today, a Draft Report on Political Autonomy – This was presented by Martina Trettel.
This report looked at the various forms of autonomy that are present in other jurisdictions, and compered these to the Bougainville experience.
According to Ms Trettel, with the date for referendum fast approaching, there is an imminent need for both the National Government, as well the ABG to work out what sort of arrangement which may be beneficial for the island region in the immediate future, as well as post Referendum.
The report has highlighted the need for both governments to SHARE the responsibilities of autonomy going forward.
Following the release of these two draft reports today, the Research Team will be presenting their findings to the Autonomous Bougainville Government in the coming days.