Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gao hopeful about K40m for Ramu

MEMBER for Rai Coast Sane Gao said the people of Ramu will benefit from the K40 million “seed capital” the government would provide for them, The National reports.

He rejected suggestions that the money was compensation offered to the landowners to withdraw a case now before the court which halted work at the Ramu nickel and cobalt mine.

Since the National Court issued an injunction stopping work at the mine, the operators have become very concerned about financial losses they were suffering.

It is estimated they are losing K10 million a day.

The government wants to start the mine by the end of the year or early next year.

Its revenue is crucial to PNG’s economy, to fill the revenue hole that will be created by the closure of Ok Tedi.

Exports from the mine will also address balance of payment concerns created by the PNG LNG project.

Gao said the K40 million was business grants from the government agreed to in a memorandum of agreement.

He said the funds were for the Ramu nickel foundation and landowners from KBK, inland pipeline, coastal pipeline and the Basamuk area.

He said he was working hard to resolve this conflict “the Madang way” and he described this as a win-win situation.

He engaged Ricky Kumung to facilitate and mediate the dialogue between the state, the developer and the people led by Simon Melembo.

Gao said any further delay in the project would have adverse effect on the nation as the state was the signatory to the original mining agreement.

He said he also saw the need to have the mine continue as the tax credit scheme would help the infrastructure in Rai Coast and Usino-Bundi electorates.

He said the issue of environment was not isolated but was captured in the instrument to be signed tomorrow.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare also said during the presentation of the K36 million IPBC dividend payout to the state (see story separate story) said the money was not for compensation but was a seed capital for the people.

Meanwhile, Member for Usino-Bundi Samson Kuli applauded the people for the lead in pursuing the government to address their needs as they almost missed out.

He said such money should assist the people to venture into business and not to be mere spectators as the two electorates were the least developed in PNG.

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