LNG landowners demand settlement by tomorrow

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, December 23, 2010

LANDOWNERS in the LNG project areas have demanded that the government pay them their seed capital and memorandum of agreements funds before Christmas.
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal and Treasurer Peter O’Neill had assured the landowners that payments contained in the MoA commitments made at the Kokopo umbrella benefits sharing agreement and licence-based benefit sharing agreements would be released yesterday.
However, when landowners turned up at the Vulupindi Haus yesterday and learned that all seed capital and business development grants had been released to the Department of Commerce and Industry, they demanded
that the payments be made by tomorrow.
Department of Finance mediators, who relayed the news to the landowners, were also doubtful of any payments being made before Christmas.
They said there were also problems with the list of people applying for grants and the need to provide a master list to be finalised before the payments were made.
Spokesman Thomas Gamu said the landowners would continue to camp outside Vulupindi Haus until they were paid.
Juha leader Watex Kayanda asked: “Where is Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru, O’Neill, William Duma and other Hela MPs?
“They are the ones who tricked us into signing these agreements, and they must be here to deliver on their promises instead of hiding.”