"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

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Government to 'end' PNG LNG Landowner Issues

Post Courier, 5 March, 2012
The Government is going to deal with landowner issues related to the PNG LNG project once and for all. The new policy will cover all monies paid under various agreements and commitments to the impacted landowners and provinces, as the O’Neill Government moves to bring to an end all landowner issues relating to the PNG LNG Project.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said the existing structure and the role of the Expenditure Implementation Committee – the body tasked to deal with all Infrastructure Development Grants for impacted provinces – were under review. “I will be meeting with the impacted landowner leaders on tomorrow to find a way forward to resolve these issues. The National Executive Council will meet on Wednesday and an announcement will be made after that meeting,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said yesterday.

Mr O’Neill said the meetings will look at a proposed method and structure to make the payments which must conform to the Oil and Gas Act.  “We are reviewing the existing policy and the arrangement in place. We are also reviewing the role of the Expenditure Implementation Committee,” Mr O’Neill said.

The Expenditure Implementation Committee is the authority, tasked to screen and approve all applications submitted by impacted provinces, local level governments and landowner companies for funds from the Infrastructure Development Grants. “There are no cash benefits. The landowners and the Government signed the agreements related to the funds. We will deal with them according to the Oil and Gas Act,” he said. Mr O’Neill said the Expenditure Implementation Committee is being reviewed and a new structure will be set up because the continuous complaints that it was not working properly.

The landowner issues relating to the PNG LNG project has claimed two ministers. The first time was Mr William Duma, the current Minister for Petroleum and Energy who was sacked from this portfolio by the former Somare Government.  Acting Prime Minister then, Sam Abal sacked him, claiming Mr Duma did not handle the issues well. 

Last week, Mr O’Neill removed the finance powers from Treasurer Don Pomb Polye, claiming the Kandep MP did not handle the landowner issues well. Mr O’Neill said when the new policy and structure was put in place, landowners who threaten, harass or disrupt work at the LNG site or public servants in Port Moresby will be dealt with by police. “These will be treated as law and order issues,” Mr O’Neill said.

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