Bougainville Leaders Seek Independence from PNG By 2027
by PNG Business News - July 08, 2021
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Photo Credit: PM Media - PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama
Bougainville's leaders have agreed to seek independence from Papua New Guinea no later than 2027.
In a referendum held in 2019, 97.7% of Bougainvilleans decided to separate from Papua New Guinea and become the world's youngest nation.
President Ishmael Toroama of Bougainville and Prime Minister James Marape of Papua New Guinea met in the Highlands town of Wabag Wednesday to try to reach an agreement on a path forward.
Toroama had earlier stated that he wanted Bougainville to be independent by 2025, but the two parties have now agreed on a timeline for the transfer of certain powers by 2023, followed by full independence in 2027.
In addition, the PNG government has agreed to hold national discussions on the subject.
Here is the Joint Statement on the Second Joint Inter-Government Consultations, Wabag, Enga Province:
“The Government of Papua New Guinea (National Government) and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG):
Acknowledge the requirements of s.342 of the National Constitution for both the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to consult on the results of the Referendum;
Acknowledge that the first consultation was held on 18th and 19th May 2021 at Kokopo, East New Britain Province, and that the Referendum results of 97.7% choice for separate independence was tabled at this consultation;
Acknowledge that the Bougainville Independence Consultation Team tabled in the Kokopo Consultation, the Year "2025" as the year for the Declaration of Bougainville's Independence;
Acknowledge that the Kokopo Consultations agreed to consult on a joint roadmap in the second consultation;
Acknowledge that the second consultation was held in Wabag on 6th of July 2021;
Consulted on the joint roadmap that will guide the post-referendum process;
Acknowledge that the process needs to be agreed upon to decide the final political settlement.
We agree to:
Continue to consult and develop clarity on establishing the constitutional and parliamentary pathway for the tabling of the results of the Referendum, the outcome of the consultation to give effect to the results of the Referendum and the outcome of the Consultations, and the pathway consequential to the outcome of the National Parliament's decision.
Take all actions necessary to process an endpoint which is the culmination of all the activities that flows from the constitutional amendments give effect to the National Parliament's decision.
Take immediate actions which are focused on the full implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement subject to the National Constitution, with a focus on completing outstanding tasks under the pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including the implementation of the Sharp Agreement to support the economic growth of Bougainville to ensure that Bougainville is in a position to effectively and efficiently manage its own economic affairs in preparation for a political settlement.
Allow the National Government to undertake national consultations across Papua New Guinea on the outcome of the Referendum, noting that the constitutional amendments which would have been set in motion by the signing of this Statement will need to be enacted to give effect to Bougainville's final political status.
Determine a political settlement no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027 guided by an agreed joint roadmap.”
RNZ (8 July 2021). “2027 target date for Bougainville independence”.
PNG Business News - March 19, 2021
Early Investments are Critical to Expanding Bougainville's Tax Base
According to a study by the National Research Institute (NRI), the investments needed to increase the tax base for the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) require significant upfront investments. The report said that increasing revenues for the Bougainville Government, public expenditures also necessitate capacity to prepare, budget, execute, and track them: Bougainville is on the verge of collapsing. “And absent such large and lumpy investments early, Bougainville will not be able to acquire fiscal independence,” it said. “ABG will need foreign funds and expatriate expertise to create the conditions for a transition to economic independence. Bougainville will need visionary leadership and considered support from the PNG Government. There is hope on both these fronts. Bougainville is rich in natural resources and can use that to attract foreign investments for technology transfer, capital injection, employment generation, market access and exports. Several water fishing nations are already operating in Bougainville waters. Attracting a foreign investor to engage in onshore tuna processing, as undertaken in Wewak on the mainland and across in the Solomon Islands, has the potential to generate much needed formal sector employment. Richer still are the known mineral deposits that have the potential to attract foreign investment. But that would be tricky given the history of Bougainville Copper Ltd, and the issues of the compensation for the environmental damage done and compensation for the decade-long conflict. Leadership and planning is necessary to navigate these obstacles to restarting the mine, that could boost revenues for the budget and provide returns to the people who ultimately own the resources.” According to the report, Bougainville should concentrate on: Introducing land administration systems and town planning; Enhancing contract protection, including land titles, mining leases, and potential income from private investment; and Lowering sovereign risk with regard to investments in Bougainville in relation to the rest of PNG.
PNG Business News - March 19, 2021
NRI: Bougainville has Vast Mineral Potential
According to the National Research Institute, given Bougainville's position within the Pacific Rim of Fire, the possibilities for mining various minerals, especially gold and copper, are vast (NRI). Following the collapse of the Panguna mine, NRI noted in a recent report on Bougainville that regaining foreign investor trust in mining in Bougainville was proving difficult. “Even more difficult is the effective management of the revenues from the sale of public resources such as minerals, forestry and fishing, which has long been a challenging problem for developing countries,” the report highlighted. “The primary management problem has been with the effective expenditure of resource revenues. Therefore, a major issue for discussion in Bougainville should be on whether institutional arrangements can be devised that will ensure that the resource revenues collected by the ABG – from, say, fishing, forestry or mining – will be put to good use in developing the economy.” It continued, “We have argued for a management system where a share of mineral rents are directly paid to the public in the form of compensation for the sale of their asset. This has several advantages, including the fact that such transfers will bind the public across space and generations, concentrate attention on the returns from publicly owned assets, and create economic spillovers in the form of increased output and revenues for the budget. The model used in Alaska to manage the collection and distribution of its oil and gas revenues seems to be very worthy of consideration by Bougainville. This regime establishes a political constituency with an interest in protecting the revenues from corruption, waste, and so forth. If Bougainville is to adopt a policy of this kind, the nature of politics dictates that it should be done as soon as possible. Otherwise, if an alternative policy is adopted, it will be impossible to dismantle later as it will have formed its own constituency by then.”
PNG Business News - March 09, 2021
Grants Benefit Farmers and Women
The grants coursed through the Bougainville partnership commodity support facility will benefit cocoa farmers and women. An initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government supported by Australia through the PNG-Australia partnership, and the New Zealand government, the grants range between K300,000 and K500,000 benefitting. Some of those selected include Kukurina Business Group which will use the grant to improve crop quality and rehabilitate cocoa blocks, among others. Jonathan Kopas head this group, with support from treasurer Larry Augustine, secretary Hilda Kopa and vice-secretary Peninah James. Meanwhile, Australian High Commission’s counsellor for Bougainville Clayton Harrington said that obvious were the economic benefits of the programme. “Australia believes in the future of the Bougainville cocoa industry to improve livelihoods,” he said.
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Access to Quality Credit - Employers Benefit When Staff Benefit
Photo credit: Savi Moni Access to affordable credit is highly valued but not readily available in Papua New Guinea. In an extremely competitive employment marketplace, businesses are increasingly assisting employees to access credit as a means to both attract and retain their top talent. Even in the current economic downturn, there is still a ‘war on talent’ when it comes to PNG’s ‘best and brightest’. This is only set to intensify in 2022 with the Government having effectively given the ‘green light’ to both the PNG LNG expansion (i.e., P’nyang) and the reopening of the Porgera gold mine. Furthermore, despite the slow progression of the much anticipated Wafi-Golpu gold mining project, it will only be a matter of time before it too will require the skillsets of thousands of new employees. A recent Salary Finance survey of US workers found that access to affordable credit is one of the most desired benefits not currently being offered by employers. Human Resource professionals agree, that in combination with competitive salaries, providing staff with access to affordable credit is another way to reduce the likelihood of valued employees ‘jumping ship’. It also helps position a business as an ‘employer of choice’ when it comes to recruitment. Significantly, a key finding from PwC's 2021 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, found that, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. Savi Moni, an online personal loan service designed specifically for PNG’s corporate sector was launched in 2020. Founder and Director Nick Keane has heard firsthand from several business leaders the concerns they have of losing key staff, as well as the administrative and cost burdens of managing employee credit programs in-house. Having lived and worked in PNG for over 25 years, Keane understands the stress and hardship that a lack of access to affordable credit results in – especially when people resort to lending from unethical pay day street lenders (i.e., ‘loan sharks’). “I’ve seen far too many people – even highly-educated people in good jobs – end up in a cycle of debt that they can’t escape. Typically, these people find themselves with a mix of formal and informal (street lender) loans on high interest rates that they cannot afford. It is a really sad and really desperate situation for a lot of hard working and honest people.” Keane started Savi Moni so that he could help the corporate sector help its employees. “As someone with other business interests in PNG and someone who has managed large PNG workforces, I knew that internally managed employee credit programs are really time consuming, prone to creating workplace issues and not a good use of company capital. As such, we designed our lending product to be simple and streamlined so that there would be an absolutely minimal administrative burden for businesses. We also wanted to introduce the concept of ‘responsible lending’ to the market – that is, by carrying out in-depth assessments to ensure we don’t over lend to our customers. We want them to be able to comfortably manage their repayments, whilst having enough money for life’s essentials left in each pay packet.” Central to the Savi Moni product is the recognition that employee financial wellness is not a ‘warm and fuzzy’ or ‘feel good’ employee program. Financial wellness programs are now a ‘need-to-have’ employee benefit. As such, Savi Moni provides not only a range of free financial literacy tools, tips, resources and courses on its website, but it has partnered with Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) to deliver a PNG bespoke ‘Family Money Management’ two-day course for its loan partner companies. The training is delivered at cost. Solar Solutions, an early adopter of Savi Moni’s loan offering delivered ABV’s Family Money Management course to its Port Moresby staff. Savi Moni’s Pukari Peni, who attended the training session with them reported that “The feedback was great. All of the staff that participated said they greatly benefited from the training.” Port Moresby based Avenell Engineering Systems (AES), has been impressed with the flexibility of setting their own loan parameters. Knowing full well, the negative affects to their business of staff suffering from high levels of financial stress, AES wanted to implement their own lending rules. “Savi Moni really do have a ‘responsible lender approach’, with tight lending guidelines, yet we wanted to ensure even tighter rules for our staff. We set our own Debt to Income (DTI) Ratio and Savi Moni were able to implement this without a hassle.” AESHR Manager, Maria Jesusa Garcia. Savi Moni is a 100 percent online personal lending service with agents on the ground to assist if needed. It is delivered through a convenient and transparent digital platform that a business’ approved HR and Payroll staff log in to. In order for employees to benefit from a Savi Moni personal loan the employing business must first sign up as a Loan Partner, there is no risk for Loan Partners just benefits. Minimal time and effort are required from Loan Partner businesses and their employees to ensure a fast and simple employee credit program. Article courtesy of Savi Moni
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Geopacific Resources Appoints Andrew Bantock as Chairman
Photo credit: Geopacific Resources The Board of Geopacific Resources Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Andrew Bantock as Chairman and director of Geopacific, and the retirement of Mr. Ian Clyne as Chairman and director of the Company. Mr. Bantock has significant experience leading listed and private businesses, both in Australia and offshore, with an acknowledged track record in corporate finance and commercial leadership. Throughout his career, Mr. Bantock has established a track record for successfully building and improving businesses’ operations and financial structures, developing and communicating their vision and strategy and building and leading high performing teams. Mr. Bantock will work with Geopacific’s Management, the Board and the Company’s consultants to assess the optimal operational model, development plan and funding requirements for the Woodlark Gold Project under the review announced to the market on 15 December 2021, as well as the long-term strategy for the Company. Geopacific Nomination and Remuneration Committee Chair, Mr. Ian Murray said: “Andrew brings a fresh perspective, relevant expertise and the ability to thoroughly assess the Company’s requirements and path forward. His proven leadership, financial and business improvement skills will be invaluable both for the Company’s short-term imperatives and the implementation of its long-term strategy. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Mr. Ian Clyne for his dedicated service as Chairman of Geopacific and the achievements during his tenure. We wish Ian all the best in his future endeavours. ” Mr. Bantock said: “It is an important time for Geopacific and I look forward to applying my experience and skills, with the support of the executive management and Board of Geopacific and its consultants, to assess, develop and implement the path forward for the Company. With A$50.9 million of unrestricted net cash reserves and no debt at 31 December 2021, the Company is positioned with a number of strategic options to grow shareholder value”. Background information regarding Mr. Bantock and key terms of appointment Mr. Bantock’s role will be as Non-Executive Chairman of Geopacific, however he has committed in the short-term to a greater involvement in the oversight of the review workstreams currently underway at the Company. Details of the material terms of the arrangements for the provision of Mr. Bantock’s services are set out in an appendix to this announcement. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with a leading global firm, working in Australia and the UK, Mr. Bantock commenced his commercial career with ASX/NZSE listed GRD Group, owner of New Zealand’s largest gold producer, Macraes Mining (later Oceana Gold), and well-known resource project design and construction engineer, GRD Minproc. Mr. Bantock later become Finance Director of GRD, also serving six years as a Non- Executive Director of Western Australia’s water utility, Water Corporation, where he chaired the Audit and Compliance Committee. Mr. Bantock subsequently helped to establish and co-lead an ASX listed exploration group, in various roles, including as founding Executive Chairman of Chalice Gold Mines Ltd and founding Managing Director of Liontown Resources Ltd, before being recruited back to a senior finance role, as CFO of Glencore’s Australian nickel business. Mr Bantock is currently a Senior Managing Director of FTI Consulting (FTI Consulting), an independent global business advisory firm where he leads the Perth Business Transformation practice and co-leads the national mining advisory practice, assisting clients to develop and implement business improvement and growth strategies, supported by detailed business case analysis, financing strategies and hands-on execution. Andrew is also Chairman of Elevate Uranium Limited (ASX: EL8). FTI Consulting is providing the services of Mr. Bantock as director and non-executive Chairman of Geopacific under a consultancy agreement. Separately, FTI Consulting has been engaged to assist the Company and work alongside the existing independent technical advisors appointed by the Company over the next three months (subject to any extension) to perform a detailed diagnostic review, make recommendations to the Board on the strategy for the Company and assist with the implementation of key action items, whether through the provision of advice or by providing senior management support and resources. This arrangement has been agreed on normal ‘arms length’ terms and includes appropriate conflict measures. Article courtesy of Geopacific Resources
PNG Business News - January 17, 2022
Panguna Mine Committee Conducts Successful Meeting
A positive first meeting of the Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment Oversight Committee was held in Buka in 2021. Representatives from clan, landowner, and community organizations, as well as the Papua New Guinea government, Rio Tinto, Bougainville Copper Limited, and the Human Rights Law Centre, were hosted by the Autonomous Bougainville Government. The committee gathered to examine the next steps in analyzing the old Panguna mine's environmental and human rights implications. "This process is equally vital and necessary for all parties, the people of Bougainville, ABG and BCL," Geraldine Paul, representing the ABG, said in her opening remarks. She praised Rio Tinto and BCL for agreeing to collaborate with ABG and stated that "ABG has offered its full support for the Panguna Mine Impact Assessment to be carried out through the executive council." Furthermore, Hon. Geraldine Paul informed the committee that a political timeline for Bougainville's independence has been established, and that this process is timely in order to support the people of Bougainville's political ambitions. Rio Tinto’s representative on the Committee, General Manager for Closure Delivery, Mr. John Dumbill said, “Rio Tinto is sorry that we did not come forward earlier to understand the impacts from the mine. We are ready and willing to participate in this process with you. I hope that I can help to move this forward, and I am personally committed to making sure this process is fair and representative." The Honourable Theonila Roka Matbob of the ABG, who is also the spokesperson for the Panguna Complainants group and has recently won an international award for her efforts to seek justice for affected communities, thanked him for the apology and noted that Rio Tinto had been constructive in working through the complaint brought against them by communities through the Australian National Contact Point (AusNCP): “This meeting marks what we hope is the start of a new chapter for the communities impacted by the Panguna mine. Personally, it fills me with great hope to see all these stakeholders come together to discuss a way forward to find solutions to the huge problems our people are living with. We are looking forward to working with the Committee to ensure work on the ground can start as soon as possible," Hon. Theonila Matbob said. Following the meeting, the committee issued a statement through its Independent Chairman, Mr Martin Brash of the Tanorama Consulting Group, said “All parties at the meeting have committed to collaborating in a fair and effective process that helps address the concerns of affected communities. In this first meeting, the committee has established operating arrangements for the process and have also finalised and endorsed a procedure to go to market to find a professional firm to complete the technical impact assessment.” The committee also approved a motion from the ABG's Honorable Geraldine Paul to conduct the next meeting in Panguna in February of this year, when they will get a desktop report tracing available pertinent background information regarding the environment and population in Panguna. The committee and the impact assessment contractor, who will be nominated by the committee in April 2022, will benefit from this study. Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government (12 January 2022). “Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Committee holds first meeting”