REFERENDUM for Bougainville is now high on agenda for both the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. And, according to the director for the National Co-ordination office of Bougainville Affairs, Ellison ToWallom, the implementation of autonomy is currently in progress.
In practical terms, a key aspect of implementing the autonomous arrangements is the drawdown of powers and functions from Waigani to Buka. Already, five symbolic powers have been transferred. These are community development, sports, liquor licensing, public holidays and time zones. Mr ToWallom said they are now implementing the transfer of powers and functions by various departments to divisions within the Bougainville administration.
“The methodology of transfer is arranged through joint signed MoUs during past Joint Supervisory Body meetings,” he said. He said the following national government agencies have signed their MoUs with the ABG:
* Mining and Geohazards Manage-ment
* Internal Revenue Commission; * Education;
* Teaching Service Commission;
* National Forest Authority;
* Commerce and Industry;
* Community Development;
and * Lands and Physical Planning.
“We anticipate signing the following MoUs on December 5 at the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting in Buka. They include: * Police; * Works; and * National Fisheries Authority; “We also anticipate that the JSB will endorse an over-arching policy framework within which the transfer process will be implemented.
“The implementation of the Autonomous arrangements on Bougainville is indeed a challenging one from both the National Government, the ABG and our donor partners. “Because while we grapple with the implementation challenges of the three pillars contained in the Bougainville Peace Agreement, we also need to encourage investment that will enhance the economic sustainability of autonomy itself,” he said.