The National –Friday, January 7, 2011
SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru has expressed disgust over reports that business development grants have been paid to the wrong people by the Department of Commerce and Industry.
“The report is alarming is an understatement.
“I am really disgusted that what was expected to happen happened.” Agiru said yesterday.
He said the Southern Highlands government which pushed for the payments to be made at the project sites but that never eventuated as Commerce and Industry Department went against their advice to make payments in Port Moresby.
He said the landowners who had an opportunity for seed capital to participate in the LNG project had missed out and the government had to take responsibility.
“I feel sorry for my landowners back at home who are awaiting their seed to plant, nourish and to bear fruits.
“The government must take full responsibility for what happened. They have to look for money somewhere to pay the rightful landowners,” Agiru said.
“If they have paid the wrong people, they have to go look for money and pay the right people who have missed out.”
Agiru also accused the Department of Commerce and Industry of hiding information from the Southern Highlands MPs.
He said the department were not involved in the umbrella benefit sharing agreements (UBSA) and license-base benefit sharing agreements (LBBSA).
He said the Department of Petroleum and Department of Public Enterprise facilitated the agreements between the state and landowners and were well versed with legitimate landowner groups and related matters.
Agiru made the statement when welcoming the call by acting Prime Minister Sam Abal for an investigation into whether or not payments of business development grants had allegedly landed in wrong hands.
He said landowners themselves also had to be blamed for their own internal politics instead of putting in place their own company structures as per the UBSA and LBBSA.