Agiru: Release grants now

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 3, 2010

SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru wants the national government to release to the LNG project landowners business development grants owed to them by the end of the year.
This call was supported by landowner leaders who said, everyday that the grants were withheld, opportunities for them to participate in spin-off activities slipped by.
The business development grants were held in a trust account, and were managed by the departments of Commerce and Industry and Finance.
“The ministers responsible must get their acts together and ensure the funds are released before the end of the year.
“There is a sunset clause attached to these funds and, if landowners do not receive it by the end of the year, the funds return to consolidated revenue,” Agiru said.
Landowners had become frustrated waiting for these grants, and some had even gone to court to force their release.
Agiru added: “The government must realise that the gas is still under my feet. It has not left the ground.
“So, the government must meet its obligations to my people.”
Landowner leader Libe Parindali, who is also chairman of Hides Gas Development Company (HGDC), supported Agiru’s call.
“Everyday the government holds onto the grants, opportunities slip by under our noses,” Parindali said.
He said there was a standing agreement for the government to pay 30% of grants for upstream landowners to HGDC, their umbrella company.