By STACEY TARURA
TO develop and sustain the economy of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, leaders of the House of Representative must develop the very people they are representing, Minister for Bougainville Affairs Joe Lera says.
Speaking during the awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and referendum last night, Lera said there were five major issues that Bougainville was facing which they needed to address immediately before the target date for the referendum was reached.
“To become a leader, you must be able to understand and identify the many issues that the people you are representing are facing. If you lack knowledge of such then don’t contest or accept to be nominated,” Lera said.
He said issues including politics, economy, poverty, education and corruption needed to be addressed in order to prepare Bougainville for its referendum which has the target date of June 15, 2019.
“The roots of politics were the people and the top-down political process was a process which served the interests of leaders only and not the people they represented.
“It was the people of Bougainville who were going to bring development and that would be possible only if their leaders assisted them.
“The answer to Bougainville’s issues lies with its people so it is the bottom-up politics that will bring development, resources and growth for the people and for Bougainville. Once you develop the people, they can continue to develop other sectors such as the economy.
“When there is no development, we will all become stationary so the challenge we are facing now is that leaders are doing things themselves without consulting the people of Bougainville.”
Lera said the region’s economy may struggle after the referendum.
“Bougainville currently raises between K13m and K19 in internal revenue while the Government provides between K400m and K600m in grants annually to run ABG. Bougainville could not operate on K13m alone therefore this was an issue that needed addressing immediately.
“Becoming politically independent was easy but without a self-sustaining economy that would cause problems.”
By STACEY TARURA