President Ishmael Toroama of Bougainville has said that any talks on the infamous Panguna mine will be placed on hold until the government is satisfied that all parties concerned are happy and determined to speak about reopening the mine.
When unveiling the Autonomous Bougainville Government's Independence-ready mission to the citizens of Roreinang in the South Nasioi constituency of inland Central Bougainville last Thursday, Mr Toroama made this remark.
He stated that it is no secret that the region's taxes only amount to K20 million, which is insufficient to keep it afloat economically.
Although President Toroama said Bougainville is looking at ventures that will help it become economically self-sufficient as it works toward independence, he said the country cannot discuss Panguna just yet.
The government is looking at the reconstruction of the Manetai Limestone Project in Central Bougainville, as well as bringing in an investor to work on the Tonolei timber project in South Bougainville project before the end of the year.
President Toroama also announced that the Kieta Port would begin exporting processed cocoa.
He said that he wants people to work hard to grow Bougainvillean products.
Mr Toroama also stated that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the area must register in order to pay taxes to the government, which will support Bougainville's tax and revenue bases.
He claims that by doing so, the country can demonstrate that it is ready for freedom and can fend for itself.
People only hinder the advent of an independent society, he claimed, because they disregard the constitution and are unable to act independently and in favour of the ultimate goal of self-rule.
“When you destroy schools, hospitals or communication towers, you are not helping to ready Bougainville for independence.
“We must respect government properties, we must work with development partners and we must work hard within our families, our communities and constituencies to make Bougainville Independence ready,” President Toroama said.
“We must work on our cocoa blocks. We must grow our small businesses and we must create original products to market to grow our economy.
“Since assuming office, I have been cleaning out our government and its agencies.
“Government departments are aligning themselves with the government’s six-goal strategy to attain independence for Bougainville, and that is the preparation we are undertaking at the top level.
“Only then can we be seen to be ready to be an independent nation.”