‘GHOST’ LANDOWNERS LAY CLAIMS IN PNG GAS BONANZA

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‘GHOST’ LANDOWNERS LAY CLAIMS IN PNG GAS BONANZA Some complain of unreasonable documentation requirements

By Mohammad Bashir PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 22, 2010) - Despite a strict 10-point screening criteria set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), several landowner (lanco) companies earmarked to be paid millions of kina as Business Developments Grants (BDG) in the PNG LNG project were actually "ghost" names.

Since the transfer by the Government of the grants from the Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) to Trade and Industry in March, several millions of thePGK120 million approved by the Government have already been paid.

The DTI is now in the process of paying another PGK63.676 million to landowner companies, according to a summarized list obtained by the Post-Courier.

A company search with the Investment Promotions Authority (IPA) yesterday, however indicated that some of the companies and groups on the list of 23 were not registered.

The biggest slice will go to duly registered companies Hides Gas Resources Ltd (PGK20 million), Angore Corporation (PGK7 million) for Hides and again another PGK3.98 million for Moran.

Nevertheless, some of the companies approved and included on the list to be paid millions but are not registered as a company or group with IPA, including South East Manada Lanco (PGK2.5 million), Foe Lanco (PGK1 million), Mubi Valley Lanco Ltd (PGK1 million), Kasua Lanco (PGK 1m) and Moran Lanco (PGK1 million).

The rest of the recommended duly registered lanco companies to be paid include; Yasuku Oil and Gas Ltd (PGK875,000), Kutubu Security Services Ltd (PGK 75,000), Kawaso Ltd (PGK875,000), Maka Investments Corp. Ltd (PGK875,000), Bayson Investment Ltd (PGK1 million), Kobs Engineering Ltd (PGK 1.64 m), Kiki Resources Ltd (PGK 4.1 million), Civpac Ltd (PGK2.45 million), Papa Resources Development Ltd (PGK3.494 million), Boera Holdings Ltd, (PGK3.494 million), Porebada Holdings (PGK3.494 million), Bure Rea Rea Caution Bay Ltd (PGK3.494 million), Morn Dev Corp Ltd (TBA) and Moran Huli Umbrella Company (TBA). Maka Investments Ltd will get an additional PGK620,000 under Moran PDL5 besides what it will get from Kutubu PDL2.

One of the 10 guidelines set by DTI after transfer of the BDG was for lancos to be fully registered with IPA and to also have a registered office. The guidelines also required that failure to meet one or any of the guidelines will render an applicant for BDG void.

At a meeting on March 28, prominent landowner leader Jacob Sekewa said the 10 criteria set by the Government was making it very difficult for landowner companies to access the funds under the BDG.

Under criteria 5, landowner companies must attach evidence of landownership by providing a copy of social mapping by DPE, reports of genealogy studies and a letter from ExxonMobil. Several landowners said social mapping, ILGs, genealogy studies and landowner identification studies were never done.

"How do they expect copies of those reports when they have never been done?" Mr Sekewa questioned.

Other criteria included requirements for tax registration and GST file number from IRC, trading account number and valid postal address and contact numbers.

The DTI was mandated in the famous Wabag cabinet meeting, well before the UBSA and LBBSA to manage and administer the disbursement of BDG impartially, transparently and in an accountable manner.

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