ABG President Dr John Momis, in a special parliament convened last week to discuss the JSB, said some of the agendas are outstanding from previous meetings while others are focused on the referendum preparations.
The referendum preparations will be a dominant issue of discussion in the JSB and with the recent formation of the Bougainville Referendum Commission, there is an urgency to operationalise it.
“We need to appoint commissioners, agree on an independent chair and put in place systems, processes and procedures to govern how the Commission will work,” President Momis said.
He further stated that all of this required the support and agreement of the National Government.
He added that the two governments also need to reach an agreement on the question or questions to be put to the people of Bougainville at the referendum; the meeting will also discuss the criteria that will apply to non-resident Bougainvilleans to vote in the referendum.
Another key agenda during the JSB will be the failure by the National Government to honour its constitutional obligations through outstanding payments of the Restoration Development Grant.
“By our estimates we are now owed more than K900 million and by the National Government’s own estimates, we are owed more than K360 million,” President Momis said.
“Just like the RDG, the ABG is owed significant arrears under the Special Intervention Fund of 2011 that should have seen a total of K500 million being approved for high impact development projects; only K299 million has been received with a shortfall of K201 million,” Momis revealed.
Other key issues of discussion in the forthcoming JSB will include the need for the second joint review of the autonomy arrangements, peace building efforts by the ABG, weapons disposal provisions in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, revenues from fishing around Bougainville waters and continued draw down of powers and functions.
The JSB is the foremost entity that offers an avenue for the National Government and the ABG to discuss issues pertaining to Bougainville’s autonomous arrangement and is co-chaired by the ABG president and prime minister of PNG.
(Prime Minister Peter O’Neill with President John Momis – Picture: Autonomous Bougainville Government Facebook page)