Papua New Guinean insurance companies contain clauses that expressly state there is no coverage for businesses operating in Bougainville, and this is causing problems for enterprises in the region.

The policies are the aftermath of the ten-year civil war (1988 to 1998), where an unfavourable business climate was established. However, even after the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in 2001, the policies have remained in place.

The lack of coverage in Bougainville has significantly hampered the region as it has tried to establish a business-friendly environment. The policy has created hurdles that are off-putting for foreign investors and have impacted economic growth.

The absence also frequently puts local firms seeking to expand at a disadvantage. Companies are turned down for financial aid because they are not covered by insurance, and the island has several security dangers. Despite this, PNG insurance companies show no signs of changing policies.

The President of Bougainville, Ishmael Toroama, has described the situation as “very unjust and discriminatory”. He points out that Bougainville is the only region of Papua New Guinea not covered by insurance.

“My government cannot be made to wait for these firms to change their insurance policies. I will be directing the Bougainville Administration to look at possible means for the ABG to offer insurance and a security guarantee for businesses that are interested to invest and operate on Bougainville,” President Toroama said.

“As head of this government, I want to extend the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s assurance to any investor who is interested in investing in our abundant resources that we will guarantee your interests on Bougainville. The government will offer its support and security guarantee to any credible investor that is compliant with our laws and policies.”

The President added, “We are no different from any other part of Papua New Guinea except for our political aspirations for an independent Bougainville. We offer a safe and secure environment for investments, and we are open for business.”