PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill will travel to Tari next Tuesday to pay out K120 million in infrastructure development grants to landowners, The National reports.
O’Neill made the announcement as hundreds of landowners crowded around Morauta House yesterday morning demanding an answer from the government on the grants.
Police, who blocked of the road leading to Morauta House, had to fire several shots in the air to disperse the unruly crowd who wanted O’Neill to come out and address them on the issue.
O’Neill told a media conference inside the building that two charter flights would be provided tomorrow and on Friday to take the landowners stranded in Port Moresby back to their villages to await their payments.
The disgruntled landowners have been in Port Moresby for more than three weeks seeking redress for their grievances.
“The government has a duty to honour agreements between landowners and the state and it is our duty as the government to ensure that we work within the parameters of the law, the Oil and Gas Act and Public Finance Management Act,” he said.
The decision to distribute the grants to the project areas were made in consultation with Deputy Prime Minister Belden Namah and National Planning Minister Sam Basil.
“These are infrastructure development grants and not cash handout grants for landowners. The normal acquittal process will still take its course,” he said.
The money will be held in each petroleum development licence trust account with signatories to the accounts comprising LLG presidents, the provincial administrator and the National Planning and Finance Secretary.
“This is to ensure they take ownership of the funds and they will make assessments of the projects,” O’Neill said.
He said all project proposals must go through the local level governments before coming to Waigani.
Project submissions made to individual ministers would not be accepted.
He has directed police to arrest people creating public nuisance and harassing government workers.