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‘Floating, adrift on the tides of prejudice’

Let’s put our feet where our mouth is

Retreat on Pokpok Island near Kieta
Pokpok Island near Kieta. Tourism at community level has great potential for small business and, in the long term, to promote Bougainville as a peaceful and beautiful Pacific destination


KIETA - We can talk about and hold up and dangle tourism as a potential driver and earner of Bougainville’s internal revenue - talking is easy.

We are creatures of habit and instinct and we keep talking and talking if it sounds good without realising things are much more involved and will take a lot more focused human effort than we think.

We hear similar things being said about the potential of agriculture as a driver of the economy. We could talk about it until the cows come home.

We have duped ourselves waiting for the government to come to us, or to do something or to poke sticks at us to get us to do something.

By the same token, governments in our situation need to recognise initiatives by individuals and business houses and provide encouragement and support to them as a basis for future long term revenue through taxes.

The role of governments is to govern, not to run businesses.

Some business houses are doing very well because they don’t wait or sit under a tree and talk all day.

They have taken initiatives to work hard and sweat it out. Those that are doing well have listened to their creative instincts and been prepared to take calculated risks.

Without making assumptions, I think the biggest potential drivers of the economy lie in the rural majority.

This is where most of the 97.7% votes at the referendum came from.

It is where the rural majority, that cast its votes at elections every five years, resides.

The rural majority has land, resources, and is subsistent and independent. The people feed themselves.

They are self-sufficient. They don’t depend on hand-outs. And they don’t live in towns like Buin, Arawa and Buka.

We know that this huge sector is represented by women who sell at big market houses, little roadside market stalls and sell off the ground everywhere on Bougainville.

Their daily, weekly and annual earnings across the Island would probably add to more than that earned some of the big businesses put together. Or very close.

I think this should tell us something. The wealth, power and resourcefulness of the people that matter most are largely untapped.

Every day a baby is born adds to the number of young people added to our population, where youth already outnumbers our adult population.

These young people offer us great potential but we’re not paying them enough creative attention as the biggest potential drivers of Bougainville.

We are all good at talking. We should start putting our feet where our mouth is.

* Hon Simon Pentanu MP is a writer and Speaker of the Bougainville parliament 


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