UNHAPPY LANDOWNERS IN PNG WELCOME PROBE

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Claim outsiders walked away with their millions

By Mohammad Bashir

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 6, 2011) – Furious landowner leaders who missed out on the Business Development Grants (BDGs) yesterday welcomed the probe ordered by Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal but warned that there could be serious problems if the investigations does not conclusively address their concerns.

They said many genuine claimants whose very livelihood was affected by the PNG LNG project missed out completely while others outside the project sites walked away with millions.

At least two groups want the government to pay them K10 million each in seed capital and are pressing to make their stand known while others simply want to be paid what they submitted for.

PDL1 People’s Investment Ltd Chairman Andagali Kurubugo who is the Chief of the Hiwa Koma people who holds title to 70 per cent of the 32,400 hectares of Hides PDL1 area said he wants his original K10 million submission to Department of Petroleum and Energy (DPE) which was later transferred to Commerce and Industry (DCI) to be paid immediately.

Mr Kurubugo’s claim on behalf of his 15,000 people was reduced to K1 million by DCI but the final list indicated only ’PDL1 submission EOI Applicants’ without further elaboration and he never got the cheque either. "What is going on? It is sinister how DCI drew the list without clear identification of our company and I am suspecting someone was intending to divert it like they are already known for doing," a fuming Mr Kurubugo said.

He said several correspondences were already made to members of the ’ministerial gas committee’, Minister William Duma and copied to all relevant agencies and individuals on status of his people and their lanco but no acknowledgement at least was forthcoming.

Hides PDL7 landowners under their company Hides 4 Holdings who were displaced by current early works and who are living in resettlements under tents said they also want K10 million before further works can continue. Hides 4 Holdings missed out on its seed capital although they also met all the criteria set by DCI.

Chairman Tony Lambiawi and principle landowner Jacob Hiwi said his people have given 14 days since 28 December 2010 which will lapse next Tuesday and until their demand is met, they will stop all works.

Chairman Nelson Nogobe of Marupa-Kawi Development Ltd which represents Segment 3 of the Pipeline licence warned DCI to pay on its EOI or face the music. In a letter to DCI dated December 10, 2010, Mr Nogobe warned DCI not to entertain paper companies in Port Moresby which was not heeded.

Mr Nogobe earlier on December 3, 2010 also wrote to DCI to cancel Cheque #0013456163 which was paid to Yutaike Investments Ltd which is connected to an Engan who is understood to be a signatory to the company account.

Meanwhile, other landowner leaders were busy sending in letters to DCI office claiming that paper companies were paid ahead of them.

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