By RONALD BULUM and GABRIEL LAHOC
ACTING Prime Minister Sam Abal yesterday said that legacy funds arising from MoAs with landowners of resource projects had to be administered properly, The National reports.
“To ensure it is paid – and paid properly – the money is put through an efficient process,” he said at the Lae International Hotel.
Abal was referring to a National Court order issued on Tuesday for him and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill to review the 1996 MoA between the state and Kutubu landowners of PDL 2.
PDL 2 landowners, including former Southern Highlands governor Hami Yawari, had applied and been granted orders to prevent Abal and O’Neill from putting landowner grants into the Mineral Resources Development Corporation (MRDC).
He said MRDC would then administer the grants to the landowners.
He said cabinet had approved K100 million for MoAs.
Not wanting to be caught sub-judice or in contempt, Abal said he respected Justice Ambeng Kandakasi’s order but added that there should be room for mediation outside of court.
He said government lawyers were looking into the matter.
He said when the MoA was signed, “it was for oil, not gas”.
But, when the Porgera gold mine needed gas for power, “some of it was supplied while the rest was burnt”.
He said the agreement was for the extraction of oil because high world demand had increased its price.
“That agreement for oil cannot be equated with those for the gas landowners,” he said.
Abal said he was trying to deter “the wastage of money by landowners”.
“When money is paid into a proper system, the benefits are better,” he said.
The Wabag MP said he personally took up the matter this year, but asked for understanding as he could not “do miracles”.
“The government is not here to approve cash deals going out, as we will always have landowners turning projects into cash deals,” he said, warning that with the general election next year, the government did not want funds to be abused and that leaders should cooperate with the government.
Abal was in Lae for the opening of the mid-year review of the Crowne Plaza Pronouncements.