PNG's budget cut for Bougainville called unconstitutional
There is anger in Bougainville after the PNG national government reduced its payments to the region.
The president of the autonomous Bougainville Government says the people are angry at cuts to the region's allocations from the Papua New Guinea national government.
With the PNG economy dipping dramatically due to the commodities slump, the national government, in its 2016 Budget announced cutbacks to much of its spending, including what it gives to Bougainville.
The office of prime minister Peter O'Neill says Bougainville still gets more than any other province, but Bougainville president John Momis says this is quite wrong.
JOHN MOMIS: That is totally untrue. Totally, totally untrue under the Bougainville Peace Agreement. And the Bougainville Peace Agreement constitutionally obliges the national government to provide adequate funding to the ABG - whether the ABG and the people of Bougainville want to be independent or not. That is not the issue. The issue is the national government and the people and the leaders of Bougainville have signed a contractual agreement to provide adequate funding for Bougainville, and the national government has now reneged on a lot of its commitments, and it is not just failing to respect the policy, it is a breach of the constitutional contract. And now we are prepared to go to court. We have tried to resolve these issues by having mediation. If mediation fails, arbitration, as the Bougainville Peace Agreement stipulates, and if that fails we go to the Supreme Court and that is what we are prepared to do now, because ever since I became president  and even before that, Kabui, president Kabui [2005 - 2008] Papua New Guinea government has failed to pay us our full amount. According to our calculation they now owe us over 500 million [kina or US$165 million dollars] - it is a constitutional agreement.
DON WISEMAN: The constitutional agreement does that stipulate a specific amount that has got to come to you?
JM: It stipulates a formula, according to which you calculate how much money Bougainville gets and that is dependent on the PIP [Public Investment Programme] the national government gives. For example if the national government increases its PIP then a commensurate increase should take place in Bougainville. And that has never happened.
DW: How is it impacting on services?
JM: As you we have been reduced to basic humanity. And the war, well you know maybe we had some say in it but really it was a war declared on us, and Bougainville has been reduced to ashes. We don't only need money to deliver services now, we need money to restore, to build up. It's really detrimentally affecting our services and its psychologically affecting the people. The people are very very angry, especially at the injustice of it all, and remember Bougainville Copper - not only from the mine itself, Bougainville also the biggest cocoa producer in Papua New Guinea - one province, and copra. The contribution that Bougainville has made to Papua New Guinea is immense. And this is the kind of treatment that they want to dish out to Bougainville and the people will not accept this.
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