A special parliamentary committee will be established by the National Executive Council to provide political oversight, and leadership, for the Bougainville Referendum.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made this recommendation in parliament today when reporting on his goodwill tour to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG) last month.
Mr. O’Neill said there is a complete breakdown of government services in the region since the crisis, and the PNG government is not doing enough to restore these services.
The Prime Minister made his speech after question time.
He said it was the first visit by a Prime Minister in fifteen years, and his first to travel the four corners of the region through Buka, Buin, Siwai, Panguna and Arawa.
He said overall, the road to peace and reconciliation and the restoration of normalcy on the Island was a long one.
He reported to parliament that the Autonomous Bougainville Government has acute capacity problems.
And whilst all provinces in PNG face the problem of a poorly trained and aging workforce, the Prime Minister said it is worse in Bougainville since the crisis.
The conflict had seen many young people denied an education, and forced to flee their homes.
This, Mr. O’Neill said, had resulted in a complete breakdown in the delivery of basic services.
Prime Minister recommended that a special parliamentary committee be established to provide political oversight and leadership for the Bougainville Referendum.
Top priorities are the selecting of a date for the referendum consideration, and the K500 million funding assistance for 5 years since 2011.
Mr. O’Neill said the Autonomous Bougainville Government must meet internationally accepted standards, before being determined by the Joint Supervisory Body after considering the findings of independent reviews of arrangements, before coming up with a date for the referendum.
He also said the agreement on a special intervention fund of K100 million every year for 5 years by the National Government for years 2011 up to 2016, will also be a thing of the past.
Mr. O’Neill said following serious negotiations with the ABG, government priorities have been identified for 2014.
They are: the sealing of the Kokopau to Buin road, the re-opening of the Aropa airport, rehabilitating the Buka Island Ring Road, Restoration of the water and sewerage system for Arawa and Buka, restoration of the Kieta Wharf, rehabilitation of bridges on the South West Road, and Restoration of Radio Bougainville.
These projects have been scoped, and are now ready for implementation.
In two months or so, the Aropa airport is expected to be reopened.
In the meantime, PNG Power, MVIL and other statutory bodies are resuming the provision of their services in the region.
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