Basil: Don’t threaten public servants

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 13th Febuary 2012

THE liquefied natural gas (LNG) project land­owners should not threaten public ser­vants at Vulupindi Haus as the government will decide how to dispatch infrastructure develop­ment grants, National Planning Minister Sam Basil says.
Basil made the statement during a press conference last Friday after Vulupindi Haus was forced to close by disgruntled landowners last Thursday.
Vulupindi Haus is occupied by the departments of national planning and monitoring, finance and treasury.
The landowners, who wanted government to deliver the infrastructure development grants, cut down trees and blocked the building last Thursday, forcing all public servants to stay locked inside.
Basil said there were more than 700 submissions given to the go­vernment and that would cost the government and the people of Papua New Guinea K120 million each year for the next 10 years.
He said the K240 million allocated would be paid to the landowner minus K10 million because that had already been paid.
He said the K230 million allocation “is for 2011 and 2012 grants”.
Basil said he would be taking the matter to the National Executive Council today to address the landowner grievances.
He said soon after the NEC meeting, several ministers responsible would call a media conference and tell the landowners the government’s decision.
“While waiting for the Cabinet decision, I call on the landowners to stop such attitudes and not to take the law into their hands.
“By Monday, police will be guarding the building to allow public servants to do their work without intimidation, threat or harassments from the landowners,” Basil said.
Secretary for National Planning Dr Peter Kora said the infrastructure develop­ment grants were specific grants for projects and not cash handout.
He said they were not like Business Development Grants which were given to landowners to start businesses.
He said the infrastructure develop­ment grants was not free money and “the landowners should know as they are grants given by the people of PNG through the taxes they pay to assist them with infrastructure in their areas”.
He said projects were approved by a committee consisting of senior government department secretaries.