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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 18) - Villagers of Watut, in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province, say they have been waiting for 25 years to receive any benefits from a major landowning company they invested in.

The villagers say despite the fact that they are major shareholders in Mainland Holdings Ltd., they have yet to receive "one single toea."

Mainland Holdings, which operates Niugini Table birds, ABCO transport, Moale Trading, Huon Electrical, Territory Packaging, and Crocodile farm and Workshop, went into receivership last year for allegedly being mismanaged. But the company now says it is on its way back to normalcy.

But the villagers, who have been waiting for 25 years, say they continue to wait for a return on their investment while their leaders squabble over executive positions in their business group.

More than K1.1 million (US$371,000) has allegedly been misappropriated by past executives of the Sai Business Group. Some of them have been charged by Lae’s police fraud squad.

In the meantime, more than K70,000 (US$24,000) has been held by the Lae District Court registrar while the latest dividend payment of more than K100,000 (US$34,000) is still being withheld by Mainland Holdings Ltd.

Villagers in Menyamya, Aseki and other Bulolo areas are shareholders of Sai Business Group, which owns majority shareholding in Mainland Holdings.

A consent court order of November 5, 2004, indicated that disputing parties resolved to work together and appointed Jason Saiyama as interim chairman, Tony Abio as his interim deputy chairman, Yawing Biamena as interim treasurer and Dominic Ngaslus as interim secretary.

Despite this, Mainland Holdings spokesman said the company does not recognize Saiyama’s interim executives and would only deal with a Ketelam Solomon who is on the board of Mainland, purportedly representing Sai Business Group.

Saiyama is angered that his villagers who owned the company for the last 25 years have not benefited to this day.

"Many of the people are old, some have died and yet they have not received one single toea," he told The National.

The Registrar of Companies with the Investment Promotion Authority, Teup Goledu, is expected in Lae this week to help sort out the matter.

April 19, 2005

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