By ANDREW ALPHONSE in MENDI
SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru is taking leave of office for two years.
He announced last week he has delegated the powers performed by the governor to his deputy and Mendi MP Pr Isaac Joseph.
This means that Pr Joseph is now the acting Governor of the province.
Mr Agiru made the announcement last Wednesday at the Agiru Centre in Mendi during a special provincial assembly sitting to pass this year’s provincial government budget.
Mr Agiru said he had decided to hand the province’s top post to Pr Joseph to oversee the running of the province in the next two years as he (Agiru) needed time to travel abroad to find K600 million for impact projects in the province.
The State has committed this money to the province during the PNG LNG project’s umbrella benefits sharing agreement (UBSA) in Kokopo last May.
Mr Agiru said he was now armed with a “treasury note” from the Department of Finance and Treasury to raise this K600 million.
Several major impact and infrastructural projects to be funded include the new Kikori to Ialibu Highway sealing project (K100 million), a new highway that would connect Gulf, Southern Highlands and the Sepik area (K100 million), Hela city development (K100 million), Tari international airport, Mendi airport relocation and the townships development of Mendi, Tari, Nipa, Ialibu, Kagua, Margarima, Komo, Koroba and Lake Kopiago.
The K600 million commitment from the State was not factored into the 2010 SHP budget because it is a one-off fund from the National Government.
The money, earmarked for these major infrastructural developments in the province under the LNG project, will give direct benefits to the people.
Mr Agiru since he had been given a “treasury note” by the State to raise K600 million bond, he needed time to look for this money.
He said, therefore, it was imperative that Pr Joseph took the reins during his absence while Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape will be his deputy.
When contacted yesterday for comments, Pr Joseph thanked Mr Agiru for delegating the powers to him and Mr Potape.
He said Mr Agiru had set the blueprint for the province as budgets were tied to projects and infrastructure developments under the on-going reconstruction, restoration and rehabilitation programme in the province.
Pr Joseph said there was no room for free cash-handouts and false claim culture, adding that he and Mr Potape would ensure the goals and vision are achieved.
He said he and Mr Potape were Mr Agiru’s lieutenants and they would work to ensure that the budget was implemented according to the plan and that the province was progressing forward while Mr Agiru continued to work in securing funds for the provincial project.