Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru stated during the announcement of the financial investment decision (FID) by ExxonMobil at Parliament House last Tuesday that his Hela people had put PNG first by signing the licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA).
The Hela people have and will always put PNG first.
We are some of the most hard-working citizens of PNG.
Hela men were among the first Highlanders to travel to the coast to develop PNG’s cocoa and copra plantations and work in other sectors of the economy.
Helas earn their living honestly and they also share with everyone. We are not greedy.
Mr Agiru says that he and the Hela MPs have carved out a good deal from our Gigira Laitabo for Hela and PNG.
We hope this is true.
However, I am perturbed that many benefits provided for under the Oil and Gas Act to PNG such as LPG extraction, purchasing gas from LNG project for domestic uses, making gas available for downstream processing, keeping royalties with upstream landowners and purchasing additional commercial equity from oil companies under sections 175 and 179 of the Oil and Gas Act were left out.
We also wonder why the National Gas Corporation (NGC) was left out when section 179 of the Oil and Gas Act recognises NGC as a key player.
The chairman of NGC is a son of Hela and a national leader but the Government, through its key ministers, has been very contemptuous of him and NGC by totally leaving it out of the LNG project.
The project is very significant and it must be built on the principles of trust and honesty so that a solid bridge is built for Hela and PNG to cross the “river of time” as Mr Agiru says so often.
Son of Hela