Call for Hela to have own rep at forums

National, Normal


HELA province must have its own representation in the licensed-based forums, scheduled to start this month, and must be signatories to the project-based agreements.
“This is an urgent call to the Government to establish a Hela Interim Authority (HPIA) to oversee and represent us in the license-based forum,” an aspiring young Hela leader, said yesterday.
The person, on a condition of anonymity, said Hela province was not a party to the signing of Kokopo umbrella Benefits Sharing Agreement, as such an authority must be set up before the project based BSA.
“Landowners within Hela province must not attend the forums if the National Government does not announce the (HPIA) establishment,” he urged.
Hela province, he urged “must be one of the principal signatories to the agreement”.
The source said Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru cannot represent Hela and Southern Highlands in the forums and suggested that the three Hela parliamentarians make up the interim executives of the planned HPIA to provide political leadership that is vital in the forum.
The idea is that the authority, once set, would immediately prepare itself for the forums.
“We would be denied our rights and benefits if the Government and developer push this forum through without an authority representing our interests,” the leader said.
The urging is in response to recent announcements by Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma that all landowners will participate in the licensed-based forum.
The Government through its agencies said it will ensure that all landowners participate in the upcoming licensed-based forum leading to the granting of licences for the PNG LNG project. 
A total K60 million has been allocated to undertake this massive exercise that will cover nine licence areas.
This has sparked widespread and contrasting feedback from landowners, with some for and others against all previous agreements in the Kokopo meeting.