ABG’s ‘One Plan, One Budget’ strategy set for 2024

By: PNG Business News November 06, 2023

Bougainville’s current special autonomy status grants it a unique position within Papua New Guinea, exempting it from certain laws that apply to other provinces in the country.

This was a vital distinction highlighted by the Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Shadrach Himata, at the MTDP Alignment Workshop hosted by the National Department of Planning and Monitoring in Kokopo.

Mr Himata emphasized that this unique status of Bougainville has also seen a disconnect between the national development plans of Papua New Guinea such as the Vision 2050 and its MTDPs, noting the financial arrangements’ implications in the context of grants and allocations to Bougainville.

“Consequently, PNG’s Long Term Vison 2050 and the subsequent MTDPs do not correctly reflect the Bougainville and PNG financial arrangements provided for by the relevant Autonomy laws, particularly the Organic Law on Peace Building on Bougainville. This causes confusion to processes for requesting and allocations of grants, given that Bougainville is governed by different laws,” he said.

The ABG Planning Team used this opportunity at the Alignment Workshop to educate and reinforce Bougainville’s special autonomy status that is given effect through the National Constitution of PNG, noting that financial arrangements for grants and allocations for Bougainville will be different to that of other provinces in country.

“The core of the incorrectness is that the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government does not apply in Bougainville so all funds attached; Provincial Services Improvement programme (PSIP) and District Services Improvement program (DSIP) to this law are by default not applicable to Bougainville. But in reality Bougainville continue to receive these funds in this way today,” he said.

“The lawful channel through which PNG Government funds should be dispersed to Bougainville are specified in sections, 48, 49 and 50 of the Organic law on Peace Building in Bougainville.”

Mr. Himata further elaborated that only section 48, covering Recurrent Unconditional Grants, and section 49, covering Restoration and Development Grants, are currently being implemented by the National Government. Meanwhile, section 50, which concerns conditional grants, is yet to be fully enacted in accordance with the relevant provisions.

“A golden opportunity to implement section 50 has now arisen when ABG launched its two plans; the Bougainville Integrated Strategic Development (2023—2027 and the Long Term Vision 2052 Plan. It is expected that all these funding provided for under Organic Law on Peace Building in Bougainville be aligned to implementing these plans.”

Mr Himata says that this is consistent with a consensus reached by the Bougainville Political leadership, including both National and ABG MPs that commencing 2024, all of their funding will be committed to implementing these two plans, under a ‘One Plan, One Budget’ approach.

“So as of 2024 we will not expect to see disbursement of grants due for Bougainville being done under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government in as PSIP and DSIP anymore, as this undermines the laws that provides for Bougainville’s constitutionalized arrangements,” Himata said.

“As a legitimate Government, it is also expected that as of 2024, ABG will procure its development projects through the Bougainville Supply and Tenders Board and not through Central Supply and Tenders Board as this only demeans the autonomy status of Bougainville bestowed by the relevant laws.”

This transformative shift in financial arrangements and development planning is long overdue, and following the ABG’s launching of its key planning documents, this now sets in place the ABG’s ability to redirect towards a prosperous and self-determined future.

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