The National – Monday, February 14, 2011
By ISAAC NICHOLAS
HIDES 4 landowners of petroleum development licence 7 (PDL7) have been paid K16 million to allow work at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) conditioning plant to restart at the weekend.
A national government team, led by Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal, paid K6 million in outstanding business development grant (BDG) and K10 million for infrastructure development to Hides Special Purpose Authority chairman Lemson Mabiria at Para Primary School last Friday.
On Saturday morning, the landowners reopened the gates for CCJV to resume work at the reconditioning plant.
The K6 million was the final payment of K15 million owed to the Hides 4 landowners. The other K9 million was paid earlier by Department of Commerce and Industry to various landowner companies in Port Moresby, angering Southern Highland Governor Anderson Agiru and Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape.
Agiru, Potape and other Southern Highlands MPs wanted the payments to be made public at project sites and not at some hidden locations in Port Moresby. Abal also announced to more than 1,000 people, who had braved the heavy downpour, that the national government had deposited another K5 million into a trust account for high impact infrastructure projects in Southern Highlands.
The national government, through the national planning committee, had agreed to make all landowner payments contained in the umbrella benefits sharing agreement (UBSA) and licenced-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) to be made at the project sites instead of Port Moresby.
The deputy prime minister also told the people that the planning committee, of which he is the chairman, would deal with legacy issues confronting Hides 1, Moran, Gobe and Kutubu in the next couple of weeks.
“While project construction is going on, we will look at the legacy issues. All outstanding issues will go before the committee for deliberations,” Abal said.
Also accompanying Abal was Attorney-General and Justice Minister Sir Arnold Amet, Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare, Internal Security Minister Mark Maipakai, Agiru, Potape, acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie and Hela Transitional Authority chief executive officer William Bando.
The deputy prime minister also appealed to the people not to disturb further work on the LNG project as all commitments agreed to between the state and landowners would be honoured.
Abal warned the people that ExxonMobil could easily write off its costs and move onto some other countries like Africa while landowners and Papua New Guinea would miss out on this golden opportunity.
Somare said since the Dec 8, 2009, agreements, markets for PNG LNG had been secured in Japan, China and Taiwan.
“I have been going out looking for money to pay for the state commitments.”
Somare said Ok Tedi, Porgera and the six million people of PNG had
contributed K1 each for the government to meet its K6 million outstanding BDG commitments in Hides so that the LNG project could progress without delay.
He said the shutdown would cost K3 million a day and the people of Papua New Guinea, including the landowners, would pay for that loss.
“We will deduct K3 million from the pockets of your children. Workers standing down have its own cost.”
Somare stressed that from now on, there would be no individual negotiations.
He urged the landowners to organise themselves and come to the negotiating table with one voice.
He said the shutdown of operations at the conditioning plant had taken too long.
“Today, we are delivering our part of the agreement in full in front of all the people,” Somare added.