Landowners favour only O’Neill

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 17, 2010

SOUTHERN Highlands landowners want Treasury and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill to take charge of dealing with funds that belong to them.
These funds include outstanding memorandum of agreement funds and licence-based and umbrella benefits sharing agreement funds for landowners in the project areas.
Frustrated landowners had gathered around the Vulupindi Haus at Waigani for the last three days, preventing workers from going into their offices, demanding the payments.
Landowner leaders said other MPs from the Southern Highlands had been giving them the runaround, and they now wanted to deal only with O’Neill.
“We trust the treasurer, and want to work with him in the disbursement of these funds,” they said.
Meanwhile, Hela Transition Authority chairman and Education Minister James Marape met more than 200 landowners, who blocked access into Vulupindi Haus yesterday and told them to allow government workers back to work.
The landowners blocked off roads at the Lamana Hotel roundabout and City Hall in protest over the delay by the government in paying these funds.
Marape, who was earlier at the Hela development seminar, rushed to Vulupindi to tell landowners the good news announced by acting Prime Minister Sam Abal that he had instructed O’Neill to release payments before Christmas.