Bougainville is open for business.
This was the undertaking given to potential investors by the Autonomous Bougainville Government President Ishmael Toroama when opening the 2022 Bougainville Trade and Investment Conference in Arawa last week.
Bougainville’s future as an independent sovereign nation is inevitable, he told those who gathered during the conference.
“There is nothing that can change the resolve of my government and my people from pursuing our destiny as an independent nation,” Toroama said.
“It is a destiny reinforced by history and upheld by 97.7 per cent of Bougainvilleans who voted for independence in the 2019 Bougainville Referendum.”
He said when he assumed the Bougainville presidency in 2020, his primary task was to secure their political future through the post referendum consultations with the National Government of PNG.
He said this will in turn enable Bougainville to become fiscally self-reliant and ensure there is growth in all sectors of development.
“Bougainville is one of the most resource-rich islands in the Pacific.
We have an abundance of natural resources with the potential for development in the mineral, agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries.”
“Our potential for resource development presents a very lucrative opportunity for investors willing to invest on Bougainville and at the same time the Bougainville Government can capitalise on this opportunity to boost internal revenue.
“Despite our enormous potential for economic growth there is still a significant disparity in Bougainville’s overall fiscal capacity.”
He said since the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005, Bougainville has remained dependent on a highly centralised intergovernmental funding arrangement from the National Government of PNG.
He said funding arrangement for Bougainville is focused primarily on our capital expenditures, infrastructure development and recurrent programs in the health and education sectors as opposed to economic development programmes.
“It is structured in a manner in which our expenditures outweigh our limited revenue earnings causing a considerable fiscal gap.
Closing the fiscal gap requires stringent policy measures and an innovative approach to improving growth in our economy.”. “My government has introduced several reforms to improve our economic policies such as the 2014 Bougainville Inward Investment Act and encouraging more public investment in local industries,” he said