Landowner: Funds paid at sites will spark clashes

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 17, 2010

LNG Project Landowners Pressure Group from Southern Highlands is baffled over Finance and Treasury Minister Peter O’Neill’s decision to have MoA payments made at project sites and not in Port Moresby.
They also said they disagreed with the decision to have the Mineral Resource Development Company (MRDC) managing landowner funds and alleged that the MRDC had a controversial past with the handling of landowner funds payout.
O’Neill however said he would not comment as the decision for MRDC to be involved was made by the National Executive Council.
LNG Project Landowners Pressure Group team leader Henry Duguno yesterday questioned O’Neill’s motives citing the minister “may have his own agenda” to have the landowners’ MoA funds and seed capital paid in the project areas.
“O’Neill should have valid reasons to substantiate his decision. If he wants to play politics with the people’s money in the LNG project he must wait for 2012,” Duguno said.
“I do not know why he is going to pay the money in the project sites. Who will he be presenting the cheques to, when the LNG village leaders, clan reps, association chairman and chairman of clan companies, block companies and umbrella companies are all in Port Moresby?” Duguno asked.
He feared that the payment of MoA funds paid at LNG project sites would set off tribal and ethnic clashes amongst the villagers, which Duguno warned, O’Neill would be answerable for.
“The funds are marked for village development and infrastructural projects. If he disburses the funds in the project areas, the whole village would want their share and then the purpose for which the funds was given would not be accomplished,” Duguno said.