O’Neill’s assurance on trust funds welcomed

Normal, Papua

The National, Monday February 17th, 2014

 SOUTH Fly MP Aide Ganasi has welcomed the assurance by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to look into the use of funds kept in two trust accounts for the people of Western.

O’Neill told Parliament that a commission an inquiry would be set up to look into the use of the hundreds of millions of kina kept in the trust accounts.

“I am relieved that the Prime Minister has taken note of the issues I raised about the safety of the people’s money kept in the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) and non-CMCA trust funds which are managed by the Department of Mining,” he said.

He said the Ok Tedi Mining Company has kept more than a billion kina into the two trust funds since 2001 as part of an agreement signed with the communities living along the Fly River.

Ganasi fears that the funds may be “systematically raided” by people supposed to be looking after them.

“I do not want to think that the funds have been abused in any way because they are not development grants for anyone to use as one pleases,” he said.

“These are compensation funds. They are blood money paid to the people of Western as compensation by Ok Tedi Mining Company for the destruction caused to the environment and the livelihood of the people by the operation of the mine.

“The people of Western have made huge sacrifices given the catastrophic impactthe operation of the mine has had on their environment and livelihood.

“I am not going to stand by and allow such evil to continue unabated. I am mandated by my people to be their leader and to represent their interest.”