LNG locals query payouts

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 4th January 2012

LANDOWNERS of the LNG gas project have expressed grave concern over an alleged fishy deal involving a K66 million payout to unknown landowners by the Petroleum and Energy Department.
The concern was raised after a media outburst by Koroba Lake Kopiago MP John Kekeno in a weekly paper that an alleged K66 million was paid to a landowner group under suspicious circumstance last month.
Kekeno claimed the money was paid without the knowledge and consent of genuine landowners from Southern Highlands Province and Hela, who were still waiting for their payments.
Henry Aki, Pali Tinia Igini and Chief Lape Wakiapu, who are landowners of Project Development Licence (PDL) 9, Juha PDL 8 and Hides PDL 1, called on the government to seriously look into the issue and identify the ‘fraudulent’ transaction.
They claimed other genuine landowners were suffering in the city while some officers in the responsible department saw fit to release large amounts of money without notifying the majority of the suffering landowners.
“We are of the view that the fishy payout of K66 million by the relevant authorities was not a genuine payment to the project affected landowners but early Christmas gifts to their political cronies, friends and family members under the disguise of landowner payments,” Aki said on behalf of the landowners.
“How can people in authority acting as servants and agents of government for the people play a role with no care attitude,” he said.
He said the Department of Finance was working in conjunction with Petroleum and Energy and National Planning departments to make payments to the  same group of people while the majority of legitimate landowners suffered.