AROB’s Year in Review

​Chief Secretary of the Autonomous region of Bougainville, Joseph Nobetau, is calling on his public service to think critically and innovatively about how they can modernise and enhance their capacity to deliver and raise revenue.

In a year in review statement he said the past year has been a challenging one for the Autonomous region. 

“The fact is that the ABG faces systemic constraints that impact on our capacity to deliver on key aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. 

“While some of these challenges are of our own making, the reality is that the fiscal environment that we face means that our ability to reach fiscal self-reliance is significantly constrained,” said Nobetau.

He said despite these constraints, the Autonomous region of Bougainville Government has made some good gains.

Achievements include:

  • Enhancing cross government communication and bringing greater rigour to internal reporting processes;
  • Engaging the Political Leadership and providing more effective support to the President and the BEC, particularly through regular strategic briefings;
  • Bringing Structure to Government through the delivery of Corporate Plans for every ABG Department;
  • Building stronger development partnerships and enhancing international engagement, including through the implementation of a dedicated development partner coordination mechanism and the first ABG-Development Partner meeting in more than three years;
  • Progressing the development of an ABG Strategic Development Plan which is now in draft form and will be published before the end of the year; 
  • Building stronger communities and enhancing engagement through important forums around referendum awareness, lands policy, law and justice and strategic planning, just to name a few;
  • Building on organisational reform by enhancing internal structures and prioritising recruitment of key positions, including the two Deputy Chief Secretary roles;
  • Appointments to key Department Head positions, including Economic Development;
  • Appointment of a permanent Bougainville Electoral Commissioner;
  • Putting in place mechanisms to better manage and fight corruption in the Public Service, including closer engagement with the Ombudsman Commission; 
  • Calling out bad behaviour and practices and taking action to remove individuals who engage in misconduct;
  • Building a more performance oriented public service culture through enhanced communication, induction training and accountability measures;
  • Conducting an audit of the ABG Payroll in partnership with the National Government to identify systemic issues and fraud (the report will be finalised shortly allowing action to take place);
  • Supporting the BEC by promoting best practice submissions and briefing for the President and members;
  • Exploring hydro power options in Central and South Bougainville with a view to establishing a sustainable and environmentally friendly power source for our people;
  • Enhancing infrastructure development through road maintenance and support to key government facilities;
  • Working with landowners to resolve outstanding issues around the Panguna mine and promoting safe work practices in the small mining sector;
  • Working in partnership with the Commodity Support Facility to build our agricultural capacity through the provision of grants and equipment to stimulate economic growth;
  • Holding the Revenue and Tax Summit which included a range of national and international speakers to explore Bougainville’s journey to fiscal self-reliance; 
  • Establishment of the Revenue Advisory (Action) Group to explore revenue and tax options available to the ABG; 
  • Enhancing public/private dialogue through engagement with key business associations;
  • Signing of the Charter to establish the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the key body which will be responsible for managing the referendum;
  • Enhancing referendum awareness through direct engagement, support to Constituent Referendum Ready Committees and communication via media and other channels;
  • Increased National Government engagement and preparations for a meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body later this year;
  • Continued engagement on law and order and support to the Bougainville Police Service to enhance capacity and accommodation facilities for officers; 
  • Progressing the Second Joint Autonomy Review through agreement of a proposed Terms of Reference;
  • The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the drawdown of powers and progressing initiatives through the Joint Technical Working Group;
  • Successful conclusion of Community Government elections; and
  • Re-building our media and communication capacity, reinstituting regular editions of the Bougainville Bulletin and enhancing social media channels.

Nobetau said the challenge now is to build on those gains through a more structured and systemic process of enhancing service delivery. 

“Now is not the time for complacency, and it is my intention to take specific action over the next twelve months,” said Nobetau.

Meredith Kuusa