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By Joshua Kais

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 30) – A number of potential projects have been agreed upon during the China trip by Madang officials and local business leaders, Governor James Yali disclosed last week.

At a media briefing, Mr Yali updated the local businessmen and leaders on the progress towards the actual start of the projected Ramu nickel mine as well as the result of their China trip.

Mr Yali said the delegation signed with their Chinese counterpart deals including the "possibilities of creating a marine park facility at Vidar outside Madang, exploring limestone mining in the Rai Coast area, setting up of a cement factory at Saidor district and a gas pipeline to support the northern part of the country".

Mr Yali a Chinese delegation is expected to visit Madang in three to four weeks' time to follow up on the deals signed in China.

As this developed, Mr Yali stressed the importance of establishing a close working relationship between the Madang government and the business community so that the people of Madang would gain from potential investments.

Madang Chamber of Commerce president B J Kramer said the chamber is willing to support this and all other positive government initiatives.

Mr Kramer, however, stressed that such initiatives have to be forthcoming, noting that development in Madang has been virtually non-existent for more than two years.

He urged Mr Yali to bring something back to the people of Madang as he assured him of the full backing of the chamber.

Mr Kramer also referred to alleged disagreements between Madang province's members of Parliament, implying that they were contributing to the lack of development.

Mr Kramer and others who spoke questioned the readiness of the provincial government to handle a multi-billion kina project such as the Ramu project.

On the question of the funding for the trip, Mr Kingsley stated that he had paid for his own travel while Members of the Madang Development Corporation who travelled as part of the delegation had done likewise.

He went on to describe last weeks media reports regarding funding for the Madang delegation as an "embarrassment", adding that the Member for Usino-Bundi, Mr Peter Yama, could have done likewise.

Mr Yama has been vocal over his alleged exclusion from the delegation, pointing out that the Ramu development is sited in his electorate.

Ramu landowners have also been outspoken at the failure of the delegation to include any of their number in the China visit.

Last week, Madang Regional member Sir Peter Barter, who was not present at the press conference, was critical of the journey to China, describing it as "a junket that must be justified".

Bogia member John Hickey, played down the amount involved - about K74, 000 - as being "a relatively minor expenditure".

Mr Hickey congratulated Mr Yali and members of the Madang delegation for their participation, describing the proposed investments as "very serious business".

"It is not going to be easy for everybody. There are social aspects, political, commercial and environmental aspects to deal with … we must be ready to meet this challenge for the benefit of this province and PNG," he said

May 30, 2005

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