| Sources: Bougainville News & New Dawn FM
BUKA – In a comprehensive statement on the Bougainville economy, chief secretary, Shadrach Himata, has stated that the province’s internal revenue of K20 million could increase to as much as K55 million this year.
Himata said there are many economic projects in the pipeline including a gold refinery in Arawa, due for completion in the second quarter of this year, a limestone project at Manetai, powered by the Panguna hydro, and a water bottling plant in Toniva scheduled to begin operations mid-year.
“We are waiting for the water bottling and packaging machine we ordered from China,” Himata said.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government has also invested in a new airline, Bougainville Wings Limited, which received its first aircraft two weeks ago which will be used for corporate and cargo charters.
“By 2024-25, we should have our first passenger airplane to support travels outside Bougainville and also overseas,” Himata said.
“Another impact project is the Bana Special Economic Zone for which our project team is working on creating a development bank to deal with all foreign direct investments.
“This bank is required because we will be dealing with foreign currencies from companies that come to assist us with development projects.
“They can bring their foreign money through this bank, which will boost economic activity in the region.”
Himata also said the provincial government is waiting for the national government to transfer its shares in the Panguna copper and gold mine.
“When we own a majority shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), we can look at how we can open the mine.
“The decision was made by the people at Tonuru that they want to open the mine with their own mining company.
“We are also focussing on the Bougainville chocolate festival, which the government has budgeted to be held at the end of this year.”
Himata also spoke of fisheries, revealing that the national government has agreed to give the Bougainville government 15% of the revenue from all tuna caught in PNG-waters.
The government has also deposited K20 million with the PNG central bank from which it is receiving annual dividends.
A number of other projects are also being considered including carbon trading, tourism promotion, a solar farm at Soroken plantation, commodities regulation, the purchase of petroleum from Solomon Islands to avoid the high price of energy from PNG, and establishing its own power and telecommunications companies.
“Seventy million kina has been budgeted to improve the Arawa General Hospital this year, while funding from the Asian Development Bank will kick start Buin hospital construction in September,” Himata said.
“The government is also committed to improve road infrastructure from Aropa airport, in Buin and between Pitono and Kesa. We also continue to meet with the Chinese government to discuss a bridges program from Bana to Buin and continuous development of the Buka to Arawa highway,” he said.
Himata appealed to the community for its support and dedication “to ask God to create an environment that we can become a country of our own.
“Particularly the leaders in parliament through the ratification process to see why Bougainville can become an independent nation.”