Hides leader wants MRDC out

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 23, 2011

LANDOWNERS are up in arms over the announcement by cabinet for MRDC to look after LNG project MoA funds.
Hides 1 grassroots leader Peter Laki said there was no existing legislation for that funding arrangement with MRDC and the government must revert to the previous arrangement for MoA funds to go through the departments of Treasury and Finance and Petroleum and Energy.
“The money is supposed to be coming from Finance Department, not MRDC,” he said.
“I call on acting Prime Minister Sam Abal and chairman of the LNG project in government to immediately review that decision.”
Laki said between 2,000 and 3,000 landowners from the project area had refused to accept MRDC managing, reviewing and making payments.
“This is not right. We, the landowners, do not agree with such arrangements.”
Laki said the MRDC was mandated by law to look after landowner funds for Kutubu, Moran and other oil projects in Southern Highlands.
“There is no legislation in place, and it is not under the UBSA and LBBSA agreements, for MRDC to manage landowner MoA funds,” he said
“The LNG project is not the property of MRDC and the acting prime minister knows better.”
Laki said there was no arrangement and MRDC was not a signatory to the agreements between landowners and the government.
“We reject the cabinet decision for MRDC to manage gas landowner funds because there is no review of the Hides, Kutubu and Moran pro-ject agreements.
“We call on the national government to put a stop to this arrangement with MRDC and bring in legislation to parliament for a lawful arrangement.”
Laki said the MoA funds for this year must be paid to project landowners and that any MRDC involvement must have a legal arrangement with the landowners.
“This year’s MoA funds must be paid out this year through the existing arrangement with finance and DPE.”
Laki said the gas MoA funds and seed capital “are not covered under the laws and millions of kina have been paid to individuals”.
He said many legitimate landowners had missed out on the funding although they had gone through the processes to form their own companies and making funding submissions to government.
“The cabinet has created new laws without seeking landowners’ and parliament approval and that will create problems between landowners and the project developers.
“We, landowners, do not support the decision to park MoA funds with MRDC.
“The decision by cabinet is sinking landowners to the bottom of the ocean,” Laki said.