Pay landowners, let them go


PRIME Minister James Marape should be commended for making a historic and landmark decision for landowners to get the full infrastructure development grant for this year.
Earlier I called on the former prime minister to make a decision on this year’s infrastructure development grant.
Marape should not listen to any sitting MP and release the full infrastructure development grant to landowners so that they can do some meaningful projects in their respective project areas.
Some landowners misinterpreted my statement and said I was against landowners from getting infrastructure development grant funds.
I am not against landowners or anyone getting their funds.
What I said was that these funds were not equity and royalty directly meant for consumption by landowners.
Infrastructure development grant funds are for projects, projects and projects only.
Under the present situation, the government of the day has full responsibility over its disbursement.
The government is represented by the Department of Petroleum & Energy and National Planning & Monitoring.
The expenditure implementation committee has the legal power to screen, shortlist and pay for projects.
Now that Marape has spoken, Hela should back off and allow all the landowners shortlisted by expenditure implementation committee to get their project money and go home and do something.
They should not be kept waiting for long in Port Moresby.
These are our people and partners and we should help them get their monies and go home.
It’s time for payment, not time for meetings and consultations.
The landowners have lost confidence in the Hela government.
They have seen that more than K114 million PNG LNG project development levy was paid to Hela government but nothing was done in the project areas.
Hela government received K50 million of the K70 million for disaster but nothing was done in Hides, Angore and elsewhere.
To date, the Hela government had received a total of K1.3 billion from 2017 to 2020 but the development story is not good.
Tari airport is funded by the Asian Development bank.
Roads are sealed under Exxon Tax Credit scheme.
The catch for the landowners is to know who will get paid and how much and for what project.
The total to be paid to each project area should be known.
In 2012, the grant funds of K120mil were paid at Boroko police station and to date no one has seen the list.
This was after landowners threatened to burn down Vulupindi House.
I thought we closed the door of making payments here and future payments will be made in project areas.
Landowners have seen that all their monies were continuously disappearing in Port Moresby so they end up there chasing their monies again.
Why not pay them now and let them go?
They have suffered enough from continuous earthquakes and natural disasters, rising level of tribal warfare’s, and lack of development in their communities.
More importantly, their royalty and equity still locked away to this day.

Francis Potape
Former Hela Governor

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