Bougainville's battle to secure foreign investment
Bougainville's president says the region needs foreign investors but some on the island remain opposed.
The autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville is continuing to struggle to forge its way economically.
The region needs to have established a viable economy ahead of a vote on possible independence to be held some time in the next four years.
It has been seeking for months to have the PNG government pay it all the funding the ABG says is constitutionally due to the province and is threatening legal action if there is no satisfaction.
The president John Momis says among other schemes is accessing the lucrative, informal alluvial gold mining activity.
This would require a refinery and the government needs foreign investors and Mr Momis told Don Wiseman they are proving elusive.
JOHN MOMIS: We talked to many many potential investors but we are all our own worst enemies in some ways, some of our people the so called hardliners and others there is a very strong anti-foreigners attitude amongst some of our people. Not everybody, the bulk of our population is very responsible but we do have some so called hardliners who are reputed to be armed and that sort of thing. They don't normally use these things but the reputation they have scares people from actually standing up against them. And that is very frustrating for us because we are trying to help our people and yet the very people that you try to help have a very anti-foreign attitude which is not helping the government and certainly not helping the people.
DON WISEMAN: It is nearly a year now into the latest term of the ABG. The critical thing last year and through the election was preparing the region for this referendum on possible independence by 2020 and ensuring a viable economy and so on. In that year has any progress been made?
JM: Right now we have a workshop being run, we have some former politicians from New Zealand or Australia and some of them are current politicians who are here attending the workshop sharing their experiences as people's representatives. It is funded by the UN with the UN peace building fund. So there is a lot of work we are doing but unfortunately in terms of securing the support of our foreign investors we haven't got very far. Although right now we have a big company from the Philippines as you know Philippines is the biggest copra producing country and because of the devastating cyclone they had their big copra mills are now looking for copra and that has given the people of Bougainville to sell their copra for a better price. So that is an injection of income into the rural people. There are small things happening but in terms of big things we as I said Central Bougainville is a problematic area and some parts of South Bougainville but I am just mentioning these things but they are certainly not going to stop us from pursuing our objective of creating a conducive atmosphere for foreign investment and I think we have made some headway although the fact that we don't get our legitimately guaranteed allocation from the national government does make it difficult for us to move ahead as fast as we want to.
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