THE K180 million allocated by the Government to pay for projects in Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces have been correctly paid to designated landowner groups, Treasurer and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch said yesterday.
He said there were records to show who had received the payments.
“Most of the K180 million, including the K160 million allocated in the National Budget and transferred to the MoA (memorandum of agreement) Trust Account are properly accounted for,” he said in a statement.
He said that contrary to suggestions of foul play, the funds were paid to designated landowner groups.
“It is irresponsible and erroneous for the media to speculate and even suggest that these funds are ‘missing’ and have all been used up,”Mr Pruaitch said, in reference to reports that The National has been running since last Thursday.
Two officials from the Department of Petroleum and Energy told The National separately the funds had been released to various individuals and entities, allegedly without going through proper process.
Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta also claimed that two Cabinet ministers had withdrawn at least K80 million and that he would reveal the details at the “appropriate time”.
Yesterday, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agriu called on the prime minister to order an investigation.
Mr Pruaitch said of the K160 million allocated, K100 million was for MoA commitments in Southern Highlands and K60 million for Gulf.
“Of these amounts, K78 million for Southern Highlands has already been paid while K38.7 million has been paid to landowners in Gulf,” he said.
He said in accordance with an understanding reached between the National Government, various landowner groups and the provincial governments who were present during the Benefits Sharing Agreement forum in Kokopo, a number of landowner groups were paid from the MoA Trust Account.
He provided the following break-up of payments for Southern Highlands:
* Humako Investment Ltd – K6 million;
* Hides Joint Venture – K7 million;
* Berali Ltd – K10 million;
* Koroba-Lake Kopiago district treasury – K25 million;
* Redskins Management & Construction – K9.6 million;
* Kiki Investments Ltd – K9 million;
* Hides Rig-Sites Association – K4.7 million; and
* Hiwa Vanilla Growers – K6.5 million.
* Kikori district – K20 million;
* Kikori Oil Pipeline Landowners Association – K2 million;
* Mesebe Landowners Association – K12.15 million; and
* Omati Landowners Association – K4.55 million.
Mr Pruaitch said the other K20 million, also allocated in the National Budget, was being paid out on MoA commitments through the Expenditure Implementation Committee. (EIC).
He said these payments were made in accordance to advice and decisions of the EIC.
“They are made after the verification and screening process have been complied with and satisfactorily completed.”
Mr Pruaitch said payments already made under that allocation went to:
* Endara Yako Pamerepa Investment Ltd –K150,000;
* Kutubu Special Purpose Authority – K3 million;
* Hegigo Lodge Ltd – K600,000;
* Akita Investment Ltd – K300,000;
* Isawari Association – K3.5 million;
* Bogasi Investment Ltd – K2.06 million; and
* Southeast Manda Landowner Association – K400,000.
“I wish to place on record that these payments were made to the people of Southern Highlands and Gulf as per the respective understandings and agreements and to no-one else. The balance of these funds are intact and held in the MoA Trust Account,” he said.