By ANDREW ALPHONSE
KOMO-Margarima MP Francis Potape yesterday called on Government departments, line agencies and bureaucrats dealing with landowner funds in Waigani to fast track payments to business development grants (BDG), seed capitals and other benefits for landowners in the multi-billion kina LNG project.
Mr Potape made the call after a quick visit to his electorate this week where angry landowners at Komo and Hides reportedly forced a strike on all early works in their area of LNG project developer ExxonMobil.
The landowners forced ExxonMobil from carrying out further developments at the proposed Komo international airport, the Yuni LNG technical college at Nogoli and the Hides gas conditioning plant site to demand the State to make payments.
The BDG alone is K120 million and landowners demanded that this money be released immediately in order for them to participate in spin-off businesses and early works in the LNG project as promised during the umbrella benefits sharing agreement (UBSA) in May in Kokopo and at the licensed-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) last December at various projects sites.
They also wanted the State and the developer to address other pending landownership issues at Komo and Hides 4 before they allow the early works to proceed.
Work was held up for one day for about three hours last Thursday but later resumed after ExxonMobil executives and police promised to have a dialogue with the angry landowners this week.
Mr Potape said he was deeply saddened to learn that his landowners were still yet to be paid their dues months after the UBSA and LBBSA forums.
He said it was unfair on the part of the State in delaying payments and benefits for the landowners including releasing outstanding memorandum of agreement funds worth over K300 million for the existing Hides gas plant project.
Mr Potape said before early works on the LNG project were further disrupted by landowner uprisings, it was imperative that the Government departments responsible for the payments act swiftly and make the payments as any further delay would be detrimental to the project.