Post Courier | October 11, 2017
The re-opening of the Panguna mine will ensure the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is financially self-reliant and able to adequately support its economy as it transits to eventual referendum.
This is according to Member for Kokoda constituency Rodney Osioco.
“The Bougainville Government (ABG) currently relies heavily on the K20 million annual grant from the national government which is insufficient to fund service delivery and developments in the region,” Mr Osioco said,
“The ABG is also owed millions in outstanding grants which the national government is obligated to provide under the Bougainville peace agreement.”
This was made known to the community government and ward representatives from the North Nasioi constituency of Kieta district during an awareness program conducted in Arawa last week by members of the House of Representatives from Central Bougainville.
Acting as the Central Bougainville leaders political bloc, the group led by Mr Osioco, is currently conducting awareness on issues surrounding the re-opening of the mine.
Mr Osioco said the revenue generated from the re-opening of the mine would be the catalyst that would boost other sectors like agriculture and tourism and prop up the economy of Bougainville if it is granted independence.
“As the referendum nears, we as your leaders, have come to create awareness and seek your views on the re-opening of the mine.
“We would like to outline to you that agriculture, tourism and other industries alone cannot support the Bougainville economy and that is why we need to re-open Panguna,” Mr Osioco said.
He said Bougainville Copper Limited was the preferred operator of the mine if it was re-opened and that the company would still be held liable for compensation and other issues which arose before the crisis.
He said the ABG was now the major shareholder of BCL owning 53.8 per cent of which 17.4 per cent belong to the landowners. The Papua New Guinea Government owns 19 per cent of BCL.
“The ABG became the major shareholder after Rio Tinto offloaded its 36 per cent stake in BCL to the ABG,” Mr Osioco said.