State will protect interests, says Mori

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TRADE, Commerce and Industry Minister Wera Mori says the State will do all it can to protect its interests with respect to the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project in Madang.
Mori made this statement yesterday following the court’s decision last week for the State to pay compensation to landowners in the project impact areas.
“On Friday, The National newspaper on the front page, put us on the frying pan as far as the PMIZ project is concerned,” he said.
“I would like to assure the nation that the department on behalf of the Government will get to the bottom of it so that we do not have any such problems arising in the future.
“Despite the court’s decision, the PMIZ project is all ready to proceed.
“We are taking every step, making every arrangement and doing what we need to do to get this project off the ground.
“It is one of the biggest investments in PNG and it will contribute in a way in transforming the economic landscape of this country and, of course, the region.
“I’d like to state here that I have instructed the lawyers from my department to take every necessary step to appeal, to protect the interest of the State.
“The State cannot in any way expropriate that land because that land originally belonged to Catholic Church prior to 1930 or 1920. The Catholic Church had that land before the Independent State of Papua New Guinea was involved. In due course, it sold the land to RD Tuna, later RD Tuna sold this particular land now under PMIZ to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
“Therefore, the State cannot be held responsible.”
However, Mori noted that traditional landowners who would be affected by this project would be taken care of once the project got off the ground.
“There will be supplementary agreement to make sure that their interests and rights are respected. With that I mean there will be some spinoff activities that will be made available to them,” he said.