Response for Hela

Business, Normal

The National, Monday August 31st, 2015

 PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has provided the Government’s response to 21 issues raised in petitions from landowner groups in Hela.

O’Neill commended the petitioners for showing flexibility in discussions with the Government and extending their call for response which enabled the Government to consult relevant agencies and other landowner leaders. 

“I am fully aware of the frustrations of our people in Hela,” O’Neill said in a statement last night.

“What I can assure you is that this Government is committed to working with all stakeholders, including the Hela provincial government, in addressing the State’s commitments in the agreements.”

O’Neill said it was not right for people trying to take the law into their own hands to express their concerns because the consequences could have a negative outcome for communities and the nation.

“I am grateful for the mature and responsible manner in which you have expressed this frustration,” he said.

“It is through dialogue and consultation that we can be able to amicably resolve the issues.”

“It should be noted that there are challenges for the State to address the issues which it is obligated under the UBSA and LBBSA when there are divisions among the Landowners grouping, divergence of views and legal challenges mooted in the courts by landowners.

“These factors have indirectly or directly contributed to the State’s inability to deliver on its obligations in the above agreements. 

“One of the critical issues is the clan vetting which has been outstanding since the signing of the UBSA and LBBSA in Kokopo in 2010.

“In recognising the importance of this issue, the Government has established a state team headed by the Secretary for Justice and Attorney General to undertake this exercise. 

“I am confident that with the support of everyone, including landowner leaders, people of Hela and the developer, we can expeditiously complete this exercise.

“This will surely help or pave the way for the disbursements of benefits as well as addressing many of outstanding state obligations in the UBSA and LBBSA Agreements.”

O’Neill detailed the next steps in the consultation process with Landowners.

“I have directed my Chief of Staff, the Secretary for Petroleum and Energy, and Secretary for National Planning and Monitoring, to continue to engage with the recognised leadership of the landowner groups both in POL 1 and PDL 7 to address some of these issues, including IDG and BOG.”

He provided the Government’s response to landowner leaders that included the South Hides PDL 7 Landowner Association Inc, Gigira Laitepo Palamanda Association Inc and Hides Hiwa Block Landowners Association Inc.