Wali clarifies MRA’s role

National, Normal

Words and picture by SHEILA LASIBORI

NOT all commitments under the memorandum of agreement (MoA) for mining projects in the country are implemented.
This is because of delays or cuts in funding by the National Government, according to managing director the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) Kepas Wali.
“Some funds are not allocated and, therefore, MoA commitments are not met. This situation affects the progress of the implementation of MoA projects, as is the case with some commitments in relation to the Ramu NiCo project MoA,” he said, while responding to questions by The National on claims by landowner groups within the proposed Ramu nickel and cobalt project in Madang province.
Leaders of land groups, Kurumbukari Landowners Association chairman David Tigavu; Maigari Inland Pipeline Landowner Association chairman Peter Tai; and Coastal Pipeline Landowners chairman Charles Okori, claimed that the State had no presence within their areas and had not implemented one of the eight projects under the social and economic development plan contained in the MoA initially signed in 2000.
But since MCC had only come to Madang in 2006, they said since then no State commitment had been implemented.
They said the MoA commitments were to be implemented during the pre-construction phase of the development of the mine, but this had not been done until the project is set for commission early next year for the production phase to start.
They said they had done the design work and costing for the eight projects’ net cost at K37,750,000, of which a copy had been given to MRA and other relevant Government departments including National Planning.
Mr Wali said the process was that after projects had been identified under MoAs, MRA as the facilitator makes budget submissions to the two departments to make available funds in the Budget and released to MRA to implement the projects.
“Landowners must know that the MoA commitments are not for MRA to fund. MRA only manages the funds after they are released,” he said, adding that the two departments then did the necessary paperwork and release the funds, in some cases, releasing less than the amount required for projects earmarked, causing delays in project implementation.