By GYNNIE KERO
THE payment of benefits from the PNG LNG project to landowners in five provinces will be done only after all outstanding issues including clanvetting have been resolved, an official says.
Department of Petroleum and Energy Acting Secretary Kepsey Puiye was explaining yesterday why a K15 million royalty payment to four clans in Central had to be put on hold.
Petroleum and Energy Minister Fabian Pok was expected to announce yesterday the royalty payment to plant site landowners in Boera, Porebada, Papa and Rearea (Lealea) villages in Central.
But Puiye said Pok wanted to be briefed on issues surrounding the multi-billion kina project before any payment was made to the impacted landowners in Central, Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf and Western.
Mineral Resources Development Company external affairs and sustainable development programme general manager Imbi Tagune said yesterday they were ready to pay the Central plant site landowners.
Asked if a time frame had been set for the Central landowners, Tagune said Pok needed to understand the issues surrounding payments “not only for the plant site but also the upstream licence areas and the pipeline”.
“When he is comfortable, he will give us the time to make payment,” he said.
“The money is with us. We are in communication with the (Central) landowners. We have done a lot of things in preparation for the payments to the plant site landowners.”
He said they were yet to carry out the ministerial determinations for the pipeline and license areas upstream.
He said Pok wanted to see how all the beneficiaries along the pipeline and to the licenced areas benefitted from the royalty and equity money.
“Once the minister makes a determination, we follow the ministerial determination to open bank accounts, make bank certificates, then elections for directors by their clans, a board is created,” he said.
“Then they come and discuss the disbursement of royalty and equity.
“That’s what we have done for the plant site. For the pipeline and licence areas, we still have yet to do that.”
Meanwhile, Hela Governor Philip Undialu said it was unfair that landowners in Central were paid royalties and equities ahead of those in Hela.
Undialu also demanded that the Government:
- Pay the K35 million promised to pay to Hides PDL1 and Hides PDL7 landowners in 2015;
- prioritise the clan-vetting exercise;
- release the 4.27 per cent Kroton equity free of charge as promised by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to beneficiary groups; and,
- Release all outstanding infrastructure development grants and high-impact funds which could total K500mil.
Undialu said: “We’ve sent 350-plus shipment yet nobody wants to do clan-vetting. Yes, landowners are to be blamed for derailing clan-vetting. But this is what the State wanted when it bulldozed the signing of UBSA and LBSA in the first place without adhering to the requirements of law.”