Call for Government to address social issues so all can benefit from LNG

National, Normal

THE Public Employees Association and PNG Trade Union Congress blames State authorities for the tribal fights that claimed four lives in Porebada village.
Representing both groups, Michael Malabag said the clashes between Boera and Porebada villages were due to lack of preparedness by the authorities to contain negative social impacts related to the gas project.
“It’s a direct outcome of no mechanisms being put in place by the authorities to cushion those negative impacts,” he said.
Mr Malabag said all eyes were on the amount of money that would be pouring in  rather than on  the social impact on the villages.
“It’s a tragic outcome (the deaths) and it’s very sad. I wish to express my condolences to the families and hope this will not reoccur,” he said.
He said the LNG project was causing so much division between the people that even families where turning against each other.
“The root of evil is now creeping into the once peaceful Motuan villages because of the LNG project,’’ he said.
Mr Malabag said to date, the Government and developers had been obsessed with the monetary value of the project while there appeared to be no focus or plan on how the nationals would deal with law and order issues, housing needs, HIV/AIDS, escalation of settlements, rural/urban migration, urban infrastructure, human resource needs and succession, pressure on limited city budget and deteriorating infrastructure, health facilities, water and energy supply, management and disbursement of increased revenue flow, taxation issues and regulatory framework.
“These are an indication of the long list of areas to which attention should be drawn.
“We call on the Government, developers and resource owners not to restrict discussions to them, but to open the doors to the cross section of PNG to participate in their relevant areas of interest and expertise,” he said.
“We accept and recognise the enormity of the project. Undoubtedly in terms of volume and magnitude, it is by far the biggest project the country has seen.
“Understandably, the Government, private sector, developers and resource owners are positioning themselves to reap the benefits.”
However, given the nation’s history on how it has handled projects in the past, Mr Malabag said there was also a justifiable sense of cynicism permeating much of the nation.
“This cynicism emanates from the fact that despite the opening up of world class mines, oil fields, agricultural projects, marine and timber and millions of kina worth of donor funded projects, the key social indicators had worsened, national infrastructure is withering and the standard of living for the vast majority is not reflective of the handsome returns from the projects.
“These are reasons we call on the Government to ensure that all stakeholders are involved. The priority of the people of PNG and many key stakeholders has been sidelined.
“While we respect the rights of developers and landowners, ultimately, this is the nation’s project owned by the people of PNG who must be included in the planning and decision making,” he said.