The National, Thursday 5th January 2012
A GROUP of landowners will put up a large fishing project with cooling and freezer system, using the money from the K3.38 million business development grants it received yesterday.
They are from Papa Lealea where the PNG LNG Liquefaction plant was being constructed.
The land owners said they had missed the boat in terms of spin-off businesses during the construction phase of the gas plant on their traditional land.
The Buria ReaRea Caution Bay Ltd (BRCBL), which represented several clans, was yesterday paid a total of K3,385,200 as seed capital under the government’s business development grants scheme.
The grant scheme aimed to help landowner companies (lancos) in the PNG LNG project’s impact areas set up commercial enterprises and take advantage of spin-off business activities spawned by the gas project.
Legal disputes among landowners had prevented the early release of funds to the Papa Lealea villagers.
Meanwhile, other landowner groups in the area had taken advantage of the construction phase and were reaping the benefits through machinery and labour hire and other arrangements.
The BRCBL leaders yesterday said they had “missed the boat” and would re-organise themselves to go into other businesses like fishing and agriculture to cater for the gas project’s messing facilities.
One of the executives of the company and village elder Rausi Iru said they were already late on contracts during the construction phase “which will be completed within the next 12 months”.
“We have to look at other alternatives like fishing and agriculture to supply the workers’ mess,” he said.
Iru said they were considering a large fishing project for which they would negotiate power supply with the ExxonMobil.
This would run the cooling facility of the project, he said.
Iru said they planned to go big on fishing and engage in export.
Commerce and Industry secretary Stephen Mera, who presented the cheque for K3.38 million to BRCBL chairman Morea Veri – a former deputy Electoral Commissioner – said his department would assist the lanco draw up business plans.
He urged the directors and leaders to put the money to good use.
“I believe strongly that you will take the money and make good use of it … you will take K3 million and grow it to K12 million in two years time,” Mera challenged them.
He said his department was ready to help with training to instill on the lancos good business ethics and discipline.
Mera said the business development grants of K120 million were for “one-off payments” for LNG lancos, which were disbursed by his department.
So far a total of K97 million had been distributed to landowners.