Landowners query March Girls payout

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 31, 2010

 LANDOWNER leaders from the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project areas have questioned the logic in conducting seed capital (business development grant) payments at the March Girls Resort in Central instead of at the petroleum and energy or commerce and industry offices.

They said the nature of the payments were highly suspicious since they only involved a few officials and landowner leaders.

Huri Kuni Development Corporation chairman Peter Laki, in a statement yesterday, called on Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma and his commerce and industry colleague Gabriel Kapris to explain to the other 2,000 landowners waiting at Vulupindi Haus what was going on.

They also called on Duma and Kapris to fulfill their promises in making the MoA, seed capital and ministerial determination payments at the project sites in Hela.

“If there are any problems at the LNG sites, Duma, who is responsible for petroleum and energy, will be held responsible,” Laki warned.

He said the seed capital payments, conducted last Thursday, were improper because there was no social mapping and land demarcation carried out to identify which landowners received what amount for what piece of land.

Duma and Kapris should not be congratulated for fast-tracking the business development grants payments as proper explanations were still needed.

“Government ministers will be the ones setting fire to the LNG project and, therefore, they have to be very careful when dealing with the landowners and their gas resource.

“Government ministers, departmental heads and senior public servants must themselves come out and clearly explain to the owners of LNG waiting at Vulupindi Haus in Waigani and at project sites in Hela how the business development grants were paid out,” Laki said.

He, however, called on the government to fulfil promises made by its ministers and coalition partners in bringing the outstanding MoA and ministerial commitments to the project sites in Hela.