Minister urges ABG to address foreign-owned businesses in Bougainville - Solomon Star News

Minister urges ABG to address foreign-owned businesses in Bougainville

26 March 2014

Communications and Information Technology Minister and Central Bougainville MP Jimmy Miringtoro has raised concerns regarding the recent trouble in Buin, south Bougainville where a shop belonging to Chinese nationals was ransacked.

The incident in Buin is similar to the one last year in Arawa Central Bougainville where ex-combatants led local people into a newly opened Chinese shop there and emptied it of all goods. 

“I am saddened to see that the local people have again taken the matter into their own hands because they are tired of waiting on the ABG to deal with problems it created by bringing in these Chinese who are now running “rice, noodles and tinned fish” stores that should be reserved for nationals,” the Minister said.
It is believed that the Chinese were initially invited several years ago by the ABG to establish a “special economic zone” (SEZ) comprising of a mega city that would have been built at Bonus on the northern tip of the main island of Bougainville.
A computer-generated impression of the city was circulated throughout Bougainville and in the media. In return the Chinese pushed for tax exemptions and other conditions that didn’t go down well with majority of the people there.
Many people dreaded the invasion by Chinese, and due to so much opposition the whole venture never eventuated.
The Chinese were then relocated to Buin where they started to sell wholesale goods at ridiculously low prices in the effort to attract a customer base.
However, in doing so they were taking over business that they only were allowed to operate. The generally held view on Bougainville is that foreigners should only go into business that locals lack the capacity to establish and operate such as manufacturing and other heavy industries.
“The lack of action by the government on the ground shows that it is weak, indecisive, and therefore unable to protect the people from exploitation by foreigners who come in to take over the sort of business restricted and reserved for nationals,” Miringtoro said.
“The end result is that people are resorting to other unlawful means to deal with the issue giving Bougainville a bad name.”
“We cannot continue to deal with investment and other important issues in a haphazard manner and the latest incident is tells that we need to get our act together.
“This explains why many people believe resumption of mining in the region is not a good idea at this point in time when ABG cannot control such a large industry.”
The Minister also said that ABG is making the same mistake made by previous governments where in the process of protecting foreign interest in it neglected the interests and welfare of the very people who gave it the mandate to rule.
He said Bougainville would not have faced this problem had the ABG complied with laws governing investment in the region.
Meanwhile, the Bougainville administration now has a system in place to monitor the performance and attendance records of all public servants.
And those who fail to perform or come to work on time can now expect to see changes on their fortnightly salaries.
This follows the launching of the Bougainville public service Alesco payroll unit in Buka last Friday by the ABG Minister for Public Service Joel Banam and the secretary for the Department of Personnel Management (DPM) John Kali.
The ceremony was witnessed by the acting Bougainville Chief Administrator Chris Siriosi, senior officers from the Bougainville administration, DPM and other ABG ministers.
This unit is housed at the same building with the division of human resource in Buka and will be managed by recommended staff from the HR division.
The payroll system, which costed K95,000 to install, was funded by Australia and New Zealand governments through their aid agency programs.
Speaking during the launching ceremony, Siriosi said the new management tool will assist the government and its administration in enabling good governance and greater accountability in the performance of public servants in Bougainville.
“This tool will determine the correct pay that you will get in accordance with your work performance and attendance records,” Siriosi said.
“This tool is a very important tool that will help with the developments on Bougainville.”
Siriosi said those who fail to perform their duties will now see pay cuts in their salaries, before reminding the public servants on their duty and responsibility to deliver service to the people.
He also acknowledged all those that had made it possible for the successful completion of the project.
Kali said this new system will ensure that there will now be “one person, one position and one pay on your establishment”