"We declare our first goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others".


- Papua New Guinea National Goals and Directive Principles




Monday, 27 February 2012

Press Coverage of Last Friday's LNG Landowner Protests

LNG money dispute spills to PM’s office


The National, 27 February, 2012





ANGRY landowners from Southern Highlands province’s liquefied natural project site came close to storming Morauta Haus last Friday after the government failed to pay them as promised.   


On Feb 15, Finance and Treasury Minister and Kandep MP Don Polye assured the landowners at Vulupindi Haus that they would receive their Infrastructure Development and High Impact Project grants by last Friday.


After lunch on Friday, more than 300 disgruntled landowners marched to Morauta House, which houses the Prime Minister’s Office and several government departments and blocked the main gate. The landowners demanded to see Prime Minister Peter O’Neill so he could explain why their payments had been delayed “again”. The landowners from the project impacted areas including Hides, Moran, Gobe, Kutubu, Angora and Juha were made to wait outside Vulupindi Haus until lunch last Friday.


When they found out they were not getting any word from the ministers responsible, they marched to the PM’s office to demand an immediate explanation for the delay. Police mobile squads from the Highlands and National Capital District were on stand-by, providing security in front of the PM’s office and protecting the premises and staff from the rowdy crowd.


Kuyalo Angro, a chief from the Alo clan, said clan leaders were upset that the government had not lived up to its word again. “The government must stop telling lies and pay us our money quickly,” Angro said. “Don Polye told us that we would be getting paid today (last Friday). “Where is he? Can he come out and explain why he lied?”


But at 4.50pm, an agreement was reached between the landowners and the prime minister’s office to meet and discuss the issue.


Tepele Tope, from Southeast Mananda, in Kutubu, PDL 2, said on Saturday O’Neill met with leaders Thomas Gamu, from Angorom and Tom Paul from Juha and assured them that the government would pay the landowners tomorrow.



Agiru: State must pay my landowners
The Post-Courier, 27 February 2012
THE Minister for Treasury and Finance should not make promises he cannot keep, Governor of Southern Highlands Anderson Agiru has said.
Mr Agiru was responding to the promise by Mr Don Polye made to his landowners last week that he would release a fraction of the Infrastructure Development Grants for the LNG Project areas on Friday, February 24.
He also undertook to release funds to meet some of the Ministerial Economic Committee Commitments, made by the Somare Temu and Somare Polye Governments in Kokopo, in 2009. 
“I am disappointed that the Treasurer has failed to deliver on his word announced to the media,” Mr Agiru said.
“For the education of some of you leaders and public servants, my people put the national interest ahead of their own, at the Kokopo UBSA talks. They allowed the commercialisation of their Gigira Laitepo (gas), weighing carefully the importance the project meant to the national economy. They do not deserve lies.”  He said they did not demand ministerial commitments as a pre-condition of the UBSA. He said they did not demand the release of the K180 million MOA monies.  “I had securely kept the MOA funds in a Trust Account managed by the Department of Finance, before flying to Kokopo. Sadly, our development money got paid to individuals and political cronies, then. As a result there are nothing to show on the ground today,” he said.
“These decisions were taken on behalf of the State, through, their servants and agents. They were in the full knowledge of the implications. Prime Minister O’Neill, Belden Namah, Don Polye and William Duma were then part of the Ministerial Economic Committee. They have the institutional memory. 
“It is my considered opinion that the State has no other option but to deliver now. “Landowners, too, must be vigilant and be on the watch. Politicians and public servants in Waigani will persuade them into thinking that these funds can be collected and spent at their leisure. They may even ask for a per cent to be returned.
“I burnt the midnight oil for seven long weeks on the Gazelle Peninsula to secure those funds. These funds are for your development programs. Do not make the same mistakes you made with oil MOA funds”, Mr Agiru warned. 
He said PM Peter O’Neill and Minister Sam Basil’s hearts appear to be in the right place. He said they were willing to assist find the way forward. “That to me is a good start. I will assist them. My landowners in the PNG LNG Project Sites, the Buffer Zones, Pipeline Route and the Plant Sites, we have secured in the region of K30 billion development money for ourselves, our children and our communities in the present 30 years life of PNG LNG. 
“These benefits will increase by 55 percent if a third train is added. That can only happen if the joint venture partners led by ExxonMobil spend additional money to conduct further exploration and reservoir appraisal work".
“Look after that project because therein lies our future,” he said. Mr Agiru also called on the Hela people to “stop felling power pylons” to Porgera Gold Mine. PJV and individuals such as George Tagobe were the only beacons of hope during Hela’s darkest days, the 2002 to 2007. Do not be a people of short memory”.

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