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The PNG prime minister hands over US $7.6 million

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, February 11, 2009) – Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to New Ireland Province alluding to the PGK70 million [US$26.7 million] worth of projects launched in the province this week.

Yesterday after a rare traditional reconciliation by Sir Michael and New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan they met to discuss these projects.

Sir Michael spoke to the Provincial Assembly and also met with Sir Julius and his delegates to discuss other issues.

Sir Julius said that there was a need to "give back to papa graun" their greatest benefits and emphasised the handover of these monies and the visit by Prime Minister Somare to renew the eight points improvement aims of distributing and balancing wealth.

"For the Prime Minister to accept responsibility and come to honour the nation’s obligations, especially to a small province, is no better exhibition of a great leader especially by one who has led the first government of this country for which I was privileged to serve," Sir Julius said.

Sir Michael on the other hand readdressed the issue of the Lihir mine deal. He said: "I am also advised that both parties have acknowledged the amount owed to be about K90.2 million [US$34.5 million] under the revised agreement. To help offset this money. I am pleased to present a cheque of K19.88 million [US$7.6 million] to the New Ireland Provincial Government."

He said another K20 million for the upgrade of the Buluminksi Highway had already been allocated in the 2008 Supplementary Budget.

"The NIPG can draw down on this funding almost immediately. I am making a further commitment of K30.12 million. I have instructed my officials to identify the money and make it available to the NIPG this year. This should bring the State commitment to pay theNIPG to K70 million this year.

Sir Michael said that left about K20.2 million yet to be paid and government officials had been instructed to identify funds and have it paid as soon as possible .

"Again, we stand to be corrected through consultation on the verification of the aggregate figure owed to the NIPG under the revised agreement."

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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