Monday, January 28, 2013

Disbursement of business grants for LNG landowners stalled

The National
Monday, January 28, 2013

Minister for Trade Commerce and Industry, Richard Maru has announced that payment of  business development grants (BDGs) allocated to Angore PDL (petroleum development license) 8 area in Hela will be delayed indefinitely.
Maru made this declaration in light of unresolved landowner disputes within Angore PDL 8 regarding distribution of the BDGs, and the existence of a court order restraining his department and the state from disbursing the funds.
Richard Maru
Maru said he intended to review the past BDG payments made to other PDL areas that were part of the PNG LNG project to ascertain how these earlier payments were utilised and whether or not the groups that received these payments had existing business with the developer Exxon Mobil.
He said this was crucial to ascertain the relationship between the BDGs and tangible developments on the ground brought about by landowner participation in spin-offs from the PNG LNG project.
“I want to put on notice landowner companies who have received BDGs that my department will be doing a review to see what businesses have been started using BDGs paid out in the past” Maru said.
He said that BDGs were public funds and those entrusted with these funds must give an account of the use of these funds and what spinoff businesses were started with the support of Exxon Mobil.
He added that these funds are not for landowner company directors and management to spend on pokies, but to secure long term benefits for landowner beneficiaries including their future generations.
“One day the gas will be all gone and the people will be left with nothing if we don’t invest prudently for them today,” Maru said.

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