The National, Tuesday 29th November 2011
THE state team that participated in the consultation forum on Solwara 1 project in Kavieng last week has hailed the dialogue a success.
State team leader and acting managing director of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) Kepas Wali said the two-day meeting was fruitful in that it was an interactive session where all stakeholders openly exchanged views and innovative ideas on how benefits should be shared amongst the impacted communities in New Ireland and East New Britain provinces.
He said it was encouraging to see that ordinary village people had opportunities to ask questions to which members of the state team responded.
Some of the questions asked during the forum concerned the mechanism that would be used to distribute royalties to impacted communities.
Wali said the simple and most effective way was to channel royalties through the provincial and local level government systems.
The LLG’s will further distribute to their wards and eventually impacted communities, he said.
Wali said the state was proposing to use this mechanism because the normal way of distributing royalties which was through landowner associations had seen little benefits reaching little people in the villages.
He said court and other forms of disputes between landowner associations were another reason the state thought that using the provincial and LLG system was a better mechanism.
Other issues raised and discussed included identification of impacted communities and equity.
Wali said the meeting progressed smoothly until the end.
Wali particularly thanked representatives from the East New Britain provincial government for their “well-organised and planned presentation outlining their ideas” on how benefits should be shared amongst the impact communities.
About 300 members of impacted communities from New Ireland province attended the meeting.
He assured all stakeholders that their inputs and comments had been noted and would be incorporated into the draft memorandum of agreement (MoA) and would be discussed further in the coming forum next January in Kokopo, East New Britain.