I welcome the concerns raised by former Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Mr Joseph Nobetau regarding the proposed amendments to the Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee Act.
As President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government I am a strong proponent of democratic principles where Bougainvilleans are able to participate in governance to determine our own future.
A key foundation of democracy is good governance which upon my election I made a commitment to strengthen following the previous government’s actions that were in contravention of these ideals.
Maintaining Good Governance on Bougainville remains a priority of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s pragmatic approach to participatory democracy within the region.
The rationale behind the ABG’s move to amend the BSAC Act is simply based on consolidating the government’s efforts in running the Bougainville Public Service machinery so that it will drive our political vision for Bougainville.
The recruitment process will still remain the same; the vetting process will be carried out by a HR firm to come up with a short list of the applicants, however under the proposed amendments the BEC will select the best possible candidate for the senior positions within the ABG Administration.
Owing to past experience, the ABG has had nine Chief Secretaries with the numerous interchanging individuals who have served as departmental heads in the last ten years.
This clearly indicates that individuals selected to these senior positions through the BSAC either failed to articulate the government’s vision at that time or were indifferent to the ABG.
There is also the perennial problem of acting appointments to senior positions in the Administration since the inception of the ABG.
This problem is an issue that has been caused by the BSAC not making any substantive appointments to the senior positions in the Bougainville Public Service.
Whilst the BSAC Act has served its purpose to be impartial in the selection of senior public servants on Bougainville this process has failed to instill stability and a lack of cohesion between the government and the public service.
It is with this in mind that the Bougainville Executive Council has resolved to amend the existing BSAC Act to allow the ABG direct control in the appointment, discipline and removal of senior office holders and the head of the Bougainville Public Service or the Chief Secretary’s position.
Under my Six Point Strategy, the third point is Administrative Control.
For far too long the government has been lax in exerting control over its dominion in the Bougainville Administration.
Through Administrative Control; public servants especially departmental heads can be held to account for their actions to ensure they deliver according to the priorities of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
I want to reassure Bougainvilleans that bulldozing our government’s processes is a thing of the past.
The Amendment Bill will not be passed until a Parliamentary Select Committee, chaired by Speaker Hon. Simon Pentanu consults the people throughout Bougainville on the proposed changes to the BSAC Act before it is deliberated in parliament.
You will all have your say on the matter in an all-inclusive process before your government can pass this Amendment Bill on the Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee Act.
But do understand that the Executive Government as your duly mandated government reserves the right to pass laws that it deems necessary for the benefit of the people of Bougainville.
We are currently undergoing a revolutionary socioeconomic and political change on Bougainville. It is time we instill reforms that best suit the interest of our people under the 98.7 percent result of the referendum for Bougainville to realize our aspirations to be an independent sovereign nation.
I remain committed to my purpose of upholding the rule or law, to promote good governance and to deliver independence for the people of Bougainville under a democratic government.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR
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