The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013
PEOPLE in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville still feel that they are not treated as an independent government, Vice-President Patrick Nisira says.
Nisira said that last Friday in Kokopo, East New Britain, during a Joint Supervisory Body meeting between the national government and ABG.
“We often feel that we are regarded as just another provincial government. Even when it comes to calculations of grants, national agencies seem to feel they can make arbitrary decisions about ABG without reference to what the Constitution provides,” he said.
Nisira said the constitutional provisions on the JSB underlined the fact that the ABG was a constitutionally established and highly autonomous government.
He said this meant that it was different to the provincial governments in terms of powers and resources, as well as intergovernmental relations.
Nisira said there was a lack of understanding of the peace agreement.
“There has been a growing problem, especially at the national level, mainly because of the high turnover of politicians and senior officials,” he said.
“There is almost no one in the national government structures who is involved in negotiating the agreement.
“So perhaps it is not such a surprise that many do not understand the big difference between autonomy and a provincial government,” he said.
Nisira said he feared sometimes that this failure to understand the ABG as a truly autonomous government was part of the reason why JSB was not working well.
“For example; the constitution says JSB must meet twice a year, but it has only met twice in the last three years,” he said.
Nisira said cooperation was essential if the Peace Agreement was to work as intended.