Bipartisan committee hampered

Lack of funding has hampered the work of the Bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Bougainville Affairs.

Deputy Chair of the Committee and Bougainville Regional MP, Joe Lera, said this during the launching of the PNG NRI Bougainville Referendum Research Project’s sixth report on the Referendum.

“Our work has also been hampered in many ways, including access to limited funding and other support. Our Committee plays an important role in the future of Bougainville and we would need to do our part in informing Parliament on an appropriate course of action, when the results of the Referendum are considered by Parliament,” he said.

“The Committee plans to travel throughout Bougainville in the coming weeks, assuming the required funding is made available, to meet the people, see the situation on the ground firsthand, and present a report at the next sitting of National Parliament planned for April.”

Lera said the reports launched at NRI, including the most recent, was critical information to assist them in their role.

“The research report that I am launching today presents much needed background information on the progress made in the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Implications for the Referendum. Some of the points have been highlighted by Dr Webster in his introduction on the research report.

“This report will indeed provide a useful background information for our committee members as they travel to Bougainville and talk to the people on the ground. I would like to ask the Institute to organise a briefing session for our committee members and am sure that we will benefit a lot from these briefings.

“I must say that as a Minister for Bougainville Affairs in 2017, I benefited quite a lot from the briefings provided by Dr Webster on what is a Referendum and what we needed to do. I look forward to our continued engagement.”

The Bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on Bougainville Affairs is chaired by Southern Highlands Governor, William Powi, with members from the Bougainville House of Representatives.

The role of the Committee is to consider information received from meeting with Bougainvilleans and experts.

They are also required to provide regular reports on matters affecting the people of Bougainville and contribute to debates and discussions for the benefit of the members of the National Parliament as well as the wider PNG public.

Cedric Patjole