Basil calms rowdy crowd

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 28th December 2011

NATIONAL Planning Minister Sam Basil last week helped defuse what could have been a nasty confrontation involving a group of Southern Highland landowners at Vulupindi
A huge crowd gathered outside the building last Thursday demanding that the government pay them immediately all outstanding claims relating to the LNG project.
As Basil and his departmental secretary Dr Peter Kora emerged from a press conference on another matter, they were surrounded by a vocal group of landowner representatives, who had been allowed into the building.
They said they had been sent to the Department of National Planning by officers from Department of Finance and Treasury.
Basil and the landowners then went to the finance and treasury department where a senior woman official
denied telling the landowners to go to national planning.
Dr Kora was shouted down by landowners when he tried to speak but they were persuaded to quieten down and listen to him.
He said funds were available but there were so many people wanting to be paid and wanting projects to be set up.
Basil bluntly told them that some of them paid kickbacks to corrupt
public servants and politicians to fast-track their payments – which they cheered him for.
He told them to come back this week and discuss the matter, and that he was a new minister who was not aware of the landowners’ problems.
Basil called Southern Highlands MP John Kekeno and told him to help
resolve the problem this week.