The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) recently launched two research reports on the Post Bougainville Referendum era at its campus in Port Moresby.

The two reports, Institution Building in Post-Referendum Bougainville and Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government, were launched by Dr. Osborne Sanida, PNG NRI Acting Director with Dr. Thomas Webster, Bougainville Referendum Research Project (BRRP) leader.

In a referendum held in December 2019, as provided for in the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA), 98 percent of the people who voted chose independence over greater autonomy for Bougainville.

As required by the BPA, the outcome of the referendum is subject to ratification by the National Parliament following consultation with the Bougainville Government.

Dr. Webster said the governments of PNG and Bougainville have been in consultation to finalise what the future political arrangements for Bougainville would be and send the report to Parliament for ratification.

He said the two reports are part of seven key studies commissioned by the PNG NRI’s Bougainville Referendum Research Project to inquire and inform stakeholders.

“Our previous reports were focused on the referendum preparations and what the referendum was about because it was a new concept to PNG,” Dr. Webster said.

He said PNG NRI, as part of its focus on Bougainville in the post referendum era, looked at the possible issues to be addressed during this period as covered in the two reports.

“One key issue is the agenda for the consultation process – including governance areas and the institutional arrangements that would support a future government system for Bougainville.

“The other challenge is for Bougainville to be economically independent. We realise from our reports and analysis that the government of Bougainville, in meeting demands for providing goods and services, has a really large gap between what Bougainville can raise internally and the total spending requirements.

“So, the focus is on ensuring that Bougainville Government get enough revenue to cover the cost of government.”

Dr. Sanida said the contents of the reports have been presented to key stakeholders in a zoom conference in October last year.

“This was to allow research teams to refine their reports.”

He added that two commentaries, “Institution Building in Post Referendum Bougainville”: Some Practical Insights to Assist in the Consultations on Bougainville’s Future; and, “Increasing Revenues for the Bougainville Government”; A Special PNG NRI Research Report for Post Referendum Bougainville, one on each of the reports outlining the contents of the reports and the main focus and messages, have been posted on the PNG NRI website and its social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Dr Sanida, on behalf of the PNG NRI Council and Management thanked the authors, the BRRP team led by Dr. Webster and everyone involved in producing the reports.

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