‘We won’t be fooled’

National, Normal


FORESTRY resource owners from the East Pangia Forest Management Area in the Southern Highlands province have refused to sign a document but recieved a K500 sitting allowance.
The allowance was  paid to the 471 chairmen of integrated landowner groups (ILGs) by Tyebo & Associate and Nupan Trading PNG Ltd.
“We are confused. Why are we being paid?” ILG chairmen Noah Taru, Pastor Patrick Piko and Nelson Mandie said.
All three men said the allowance offered was for five months and that they did not know what they had to sign or why they were being paid.
Pr Piko and more than half of the 471 ILG chairmen told The National on Sunday in Apanda village that they feared their resources would be sold off by just putting their signatures on an unspecified document.
Pr Piko said the ILG chairmen did not sit for any meeting and the company did not even explain why they had to sign before getting their allowance.
“We are suspicious of being lured into signing an agreement tied to the allowance,” said Pr Piko.
Molo clan chairman Madie said he had 62 family members and that it would be selfish of him to accept the allowance while his family members did not get anything,
“Even if I had to share amongst my members, the amount would not be enough,” he said.
Mr Taru described the  K500 cash payout as “a cargo cult act”.
“We don’t know why we have to sign before we get the payment. I am concerned about my children’s future.
“Without knowing the volume of the carbon sinks in my forest, I certainly would not want to sell my resources off cheaply to foreigners,” he said.
Nupan Trading PNG Ltd director Kirk William Roberts refused to comment when The National located him at the Highlander Hotel.