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May 9, 2021
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O’Neill: ABG Will Not Control 53% Shares

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Shares of the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has become a debatable issue in parliament.

Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill responded during question time and said that the Autonomous Bougainville Government will not control 53 per cent of BCL shares.

The Prime Minister said this is the reason why the Government of Papua New Guinea has transferred 17.4 per cent of shares to the landowners and the people of Bougainville.

The Prime Minister was responding to questions from the Sinasina-Yonggamugl MP, Kerenga Kua, who was concerned over the mine’s equity which was a contentious issue that led to many blood shed during the civil war on Bougainville.

“Within that decision, was there an additional provision made to ensure that part of the equity give to the Autonomous Bougainville Government is actually allocated to the local people of Panguna so that they feel that their sacrifices and efforts had been compensated and recognised by their National Government, which is us,” Kua said.

In response the Prime Minister said, “Mr Speaker, in respect to Panguna, these shares are not given to the Autonomous Bougainville Government. I think that my statement very clearly stated that it is going to the landowners and the people of Bougainville. I have deliberately done that, so that Mr Speaker, ABG does not control 53 per cent of the mine. I wanted a separate vehicle, that the landowners can fully, meaningfully, directly participate in BCL.

“Mr Speaker,and again second reason, why the Government did that because, Mr Speaker, I understand that from the mining laws of ABG, I need some clarity on this but it is my understanding that ABG only provides 5 per cent, of the interest, that they represent through the landowners. I do not believe that was sufficient enough to compensate some of these sufferings that the landowners in Bougainvillle carried on.

“That is why Mr Speaker, it will be a separate, stand-alone vehicle for the Panguna landowners and also the other Bougainvilleans who suffered during the crisis,” O’Neill said.

The manner in which the BCL Shares was handled has raised curiosity among leaders and the people Bougainville.

President, Chief John Momis, has been very vocal on this issue saying the Autonomous Bougainville Government is the legitimate authority.

And such move by the National Government is dangerous, in breach of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“As we are concerned, it is not fair, it is unjust. The best we can do under the circumstances is to persuade and ask the National Government to give us the 17 per cent so that we have 53 per cent in the BCL shares,”

“Of course the National Government has 19 per cent and we welcome them. We want the National Government to be in this deal with us, and of course 27 per cent shares owned by individuals. We believe that this is a win-win deal,” Momis said.

The Opposition Leader, Don Polye has raised the alarm saying issues concerning Bougainville were of sensitive and must be treated with careful considerations, to avoid another civil war.

In a statement, Polye said, “They never asked for money but economy, integral human development and livelihood and not money.”

The Opposition Leader has called on Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, to fully understand issues concerning Bougainville.

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