K1.1 billion of PNG LNG Landowner Funds sitting in Bank Accounts : Marape

 MORE than K1.1 billion is sitting in the banks waiting to be paid out to PNG LNG project landowning units – once the clan-vetting exercise is completed, says the country's Prime Minister James Marape.

And he said the onus is on the landowners to assist the completion of the exercise by withdrawing cases some had filed in court challenging it.

“Based on the September 2021 figures, this fund is now more than K1.1 billion sitting in accounts held by the Government and the Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) at the Bank South Pacific and Central Bank,” Marape said.

PNG LNG Landowners in a gathering. Photo by Anderson Apula/FB

“When I met the landowners in 2019, I encouraged them to assist the Department of Petroleum and Energy complete the clan-vetting exercise by removing various court cases some of them had filed in the National Court and Supreme Court.

“This will allow their rightful entitlements to flow through like what the landowners of Papa-Lealea (in Central) are now receiving.”

Marape was responding yesterday to some PNG LNG project landowners from petroleum development license (PDL) areas “chasing the Government for funds that may no longer be a direct entitlement in the Budget”.

He said they were only making themselves “look silly”.

He again clarified that landowners’ entitlements were from what was signed under the umbrella benefits sharing agreement (UBSA) in Kokopo, “split by percentage to all the landowner-based benefits sharing agreements”.

He said these were royalties and equity “which needed their help to be released for their use”.

He told the landowners that whatever else was owed, if any, as per UBSA and LBBSAs, would be verified and settled.

“So far, based on records, various bodies of landowners and provincial governments have (received) funds under the auspice of various agreements,” he said.

“We are presently verifying these under the leadership of the Petroleum Department. I want to tell the so-called landowners in Port Moresby that I have been here since day one and I know all these dynamics at play.

“You have lived through the Somare government and the O’Neil government over the last 10 years and these issues keep on recurring.

“I am putting in place permanent solutions to these outstanding matters. And it does not help when you protest and run all over the place for some so-called IDG, HIP, BDG or MOA funds when your own royalties and equities are sitting idle in the banks.

“We will complete verification of what is owed to you by agreement, and I will bring the figure to you in the PDL areas – not in Port Moresby.

“A date will be set up soon. But you must help too in completing your landowner ID processing so I can release your funds, direct entitlements, royalty and equities.”

Statement / The National / Pacific Mining Watch 

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