Agiru clarifies release of K10 million cheques

National, Normal

The National , Wednesday, June 1, 2011

SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru yesterday called on landowners to refrain from threats and intimidation, saying they could have dire consequences for the liquefied natural gas project.
Agiru said there was nothing to gain by running to the media each time there appeared to be an issue.
“That tends to compound minor problems and creates uncertainty and fear among investors who have pledged billions of kina into the project,” he said.
Responding to queries raised by landowner Willie Wandaja, Agiru said there was nothing untoward or illegal in money commitments made to date covered by the integrated development grants (IDG).
“I am fully conversant with money committed from IDG funds,” Agiru said.
“There was K120 million allocated in last year’s supplementary budget and K120 million allocated in this year’s development budget towards IDG.
“Of the total 72%, or K172 million, will be spent in Southern Highlands and Hela and 28% for Gulf, Western and Central.
“IDG funds are not landowner funds. They will not access them as they have been accessing MoA and other funds.
“These are infrastructure grants and a good proportion of it will be spent on infrastructure in the project sites.
“A small fraction of it will be spent on priority infrastructure in the rest of Southern Highlands and Hela as approved by the Southern Highlands provincial executive council.
“This is to ensure there is fair, equitable and balanced growth in Southern Highlands and Hela region.”
Agiru said he was aware of the K10 million complained of, “which is committed for important infrastructure such as the Nogoli growth centre, Hides 4 growth centre, Kutubu township, Komo township, Gulf-Southern Highlands highway, Angore and Juha growth centres and Tari-Komo highway”.
He said steps were being taken to release these funds before the financial year ended.
These projects would be managed by ExxonMobil, Oil Search, Works Department and special purpose authorities in respective project sites “which can then award contracts to landowner companies”, Agiru said.
He said implementation had started with smaller projects as major infrastructure had to go through the central supply and tenders board clearing house.
Agiru urged people not to confuse issues as some projects such as rural roads were funded under the supplementary budget and not from IDG.
He confirmed K10 million had been committed for the Marin-Pori road and Bush-Karinz road while K2 million had been committed for the Hela Technical College and a further K4 million for the Wiru loop road.
He said the K3 million complained about for the Hulia-Benaria road “is not funded under the IDG”.
Other major infrastructure such as Hela city, Mendi and Ialibu townships, Tari International Airport, townships for Margarima, Kagua, Nipa and Lake Kopiago would go to competitive tendering.