O’Neill: K120m business grants ready for payment

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, December 23, 2010

FINANCE and Treasury Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday that the business development grants of K120m are now ready to be paid to genuine landowners of the project area.
Finance and Treasury Department officials worked with Central Bank staff yesterday to clear the funds to be transferred to the Department of Commerce and Industry for payment.
The BDG, or seed capital, were promised to landowners to help them set up spin-off businesses associated with the PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
They were to be paid out early in the year, but delayed until this week. The delay had been the source of frustration among many landowning groups.
O’Neill said the funds were now with commerce and industry, and they would identify the appropriate landowner groups and pay them.
He said memorandum of agreement funds for landowners of existing projects would not be paid until project proposals were properly vetted.
About K100 million for this is held in a special trust account for landowners.
Project proposals would go through the expenditure implementation committee for vetting and, once approved, finance will pay.
These outstanding MoA funds were for Moran, Gobe, Kutubu and Hides PDL1.
There were also court orders taken out relating to these grants, and those issues needed to be resolved.
O’Neill appealed to landowners to be responsible and work with the government to resolve these issues.
“The government is determined to ensure it lives up to commitments made under the UBSA and LBBSA for the LNG project,” the treasurer said.