However, he made it clear that matters of Bougainville are of paramount importance, including that of Bougainville’s referendum, and discussions should be debated often.
Powi recently headed the National Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee on Bougainville Matters, where issues relating to the autonomous region went under the spotlight after a week-long assessment and consultations were carried out.
Committee chairman Powi, along with members; Madang Governor Jim Kas and Nuku MP Joseph Sungi, travelled the whole region of Bougainville as part of the committee’s fact finding mission, consulting personally with leaders from the ABG, Council of Elders, ex-combatants, women’s groups, churches and the general populace of Bougainville.
Powi stated that the intention of the committee is to discuss and hear from the people about what’s happening and what the problems being faced in Bougainville are. They were also there to find out if government services are reaching Bougainville and having an impact on the people.
They witnessed first-hand the physical infrastructure, education and health services on ground, including the Buka ring road project and Kangu Wharf.
A detailed report of the visit will be tabled in Parliament and discussions and issues concerning Bougainville will be debated to address concerns raised during the various forums held throughout the island.
Many of the people were outspoken and spoke with concern over the differences between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government. They called on both Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the President, Chief Dr. John Momis, to once and for all resolve funding issues for Bougainville.
A former combatant, David Kampori, said: “As signatories to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, we must honour the agreement and come to a resolution with the funding so that the National elected Members and the ABG members can develop Bougainville for us”.
Chairman Powi said: “We represent the parliament, we are a mini parliament here to listen to your issues, comments and compliments. And the report that will be furnished will enable all members of parliament to be aware of the issues and be able to engage in fruitful discussions about Bougainville.”
The National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs coordinated the mission from Buka, Selau, Peit, Nova, Wakunai, Panakei, Arawa, Buin and Siwai, covering the broader community of Bougainville.
The acting director for NCOBA, John Avira, commended the successful first engagement. Subsequent consultations will be made after the report is tabled.
A strong recommendation has also been made for the committee to visit areas on Bougainville that were missed out during initial consultations.
(Picture: PNGexposed Blog)