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The Central Bougainville Economic Growth and Development Initiative

November 16, 2018

BY CHRIS BARIA

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the member for Central for being cleared by the courts and is now the member-elect and on the same note I commend you for providing a platform for discussions on economic recovery and economic growth for a region blessed with fertile soils for growing crops, a stretch of saltwater that can provide salt, fish and other marine resources to trade and build our economy on. Central also has the best harbour in the region and a national airport which are vital infrastructures to growth and development.


The people of Bougainville have for a long time lived under the shadow of a mine that never provided any direct economic impetus and most of the villages close to the mine and elsewhere lacked road infrastructure and other forms of development. Many people from other parts of Bougainville wrongly believed that Central had benefited from the mine. The opposite is true. The mine robbed people of their land and caused massive environmental damage which is still visible to day.


People further away from the mine in Wakunai Kongara and South Nasioi depended on Cocoa and Copra to earn an income to support their livelihoods. The mine provided Papua New Guinea around 45 percent of it’s export earnings and much of it was spent there while Bougainville saw no tangible social and economic development. Therefore, it did come as no surprise to many people when Bougainvilleans rebelled.


One thing is for certain here. We are not in some sort of competition with other regions. Each region in Bougainville must develop according to own vision of it’s people. All have different values. What we need to know is that both macro and microeconomics in all regions must develop hand and in hand. We cannot just talk about mining and all the big industries when our ordinary people in the rural Bougainville have no earning power or the opportunity to unleash their creative power.


For Central Bougainville I would like to see areas and communities group into economic units or sectors maybe along the community government demarkation but not necessary. Each unit must have it’s own development vision and how it sees itself 20 years down the line. All units must have earning power and come under the authority of the community government economic and social develoment secretariat which in turn reports to National Secretariat for rural development.


Downstream processing for commodities like virgin coconut oil (VCO) should be done at family household level. Large factories may rob them of their income and if there is to be any such facility it should take on what the families cannot do on their own. In any case all manufacturing and marketing companies must owned by people under cooperative arrangement.


Central Bougainville must utilize the power of it’s clans to appoint people into the government. In this way an appropriate policy framework can be developed to drive our development agenda.