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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 10) – Papua New Guinea Mining Minister Sam Akoitai has finally released more than 1 million kina (US$323,000) in overdue mining royalties to New Ireland Province.

But Governor Ian Ling-Stuckey is far from happy at the way in which the money was dealt out.

He has been in a war of words with Akoitai over payment of the February, March and April mining royalties from the Lihir Gold Mine since the revenue stopped flowing from the National Government at the end of last year.

Akoitai claimed the provincial government had not accounted for past royalties.

With the release of three months of installments totaling K1,136,546.01 last month, Ling-Stuckey said disruptions to the opening of community and high schools in the province would stop.

He said the supply of essential services to Namatanai would resume. The road from Kavieng to Namatanai had been deteriorating.

In March a Mobil fuel tanker was stuck on the road and had to turn back to Kavieng. This had resulted in fuel not getting through to the Namatanai district.

Ling-Stuckey said he was disappointed at the treatment given to the provincial government when an appointment with the minister set for 3 p.m. on April 29 to receive the checks was cancelled because the minister failed to turn up. Ling-Stuckey said instead the checks were given last Sunday afternoon to Provincial Administrator Robinson Sirambat at Akoitai’s car park in Port Moresby.

He said the manner in which Akoitai had gone about dealing with what had turned out to be unsubstantiated allegations against the provincial government should never be allowed to happen again.

"Where the entire people in a province can be held to ransom with disruptions to essential government services including prolonged closure of most New Ireland schools because politicians and their ignorant advisors wanted to ‘ teach them a lesson,’" he said.

May 11, 2005

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