8 Aug 2005

Bougainville needs to diversify economy and become less reliant on donors - President

8:18 pm on 8 August 2005

The newly autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville has been told it must create a strong diversified economy before it can contemplate becoming fully independent.

As part of the peace agreement signed in 2001, Bougainville is to hold a referendum on full independence by 2020.

But its President Joseph Kabui says before it can even consider that it has to rebuild the economy and to restore infrastructure and services.

He says the economy is too small and too dependent on copra and cocoa and needs to be more broad-based and include fishing, tourism and mining.

Mr Kabui said that the province's economy is also too dependent on aid with 64 percent of its 2005 revenue coming from the National Government and 34 percent from donor countries.

He says it is sad news that Bougainville can only earn two percent of what it needs to run its affairs and it will not attain the highest level of autonomy, let alone independence, until it is financially self-reliant.