Landowners demand to be paid their outstanding MoA funds

Highlands, Normal


SOUTHERN Highlands landowners who missed out in the first lot of payout from the controversial K180 million outstanding memorandum of agreement (MoA) funds are now asking the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) to find the money and pay them before they could go for the licensed-based development (LBD) forum this month.
Elvis Alungi, chairman of Pai Howa Resources Owners Association of Northwest Moran oil project, made the call yesterday in response to the payout made recently under dubious circumstances to certain individual landowner leaders in Port Moresby last month.
Mr Alungi said he is still waiting with his 35 chairmen of incorporated landowner groups (ILGs) in Port Moresby to pick up “their share” of the MOA funds including business development grants and seed capital before the  LBD this month.
Mr Alungi said the DPE must find the money and pay them within this week or next week.
“The Government has set the precedent by paying other selected landowners, so it must also be prepared to pay the amount to the real landowners back home  in the same region as those few landowners who got their share of the K180 million,” Mr Alungi said.
A senior DPE source, when contacted yesterday said the department is now under enormous pressure to find money from the Government “somewhere somehow to please” the other landowners before they could go for LBD forum at the eight respective projects sites in the province.
Provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia said about 310 policemen and workmen from within the province and outside would be engaged to provide security in eight of the project sites in the province during the LBD forum.
Supt Onopia said he needs about K4.1 million for this operation and his budget is with the DPE secretary Rendell Rimua.
But Supt Onopia said he is in the dark as to when the forum would be held and when the funds would be released.
Several attempts to speak to Mr Rimua and Ian Maru, director for PNG LNG project coordination office, yesterday were unsuccessful.