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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chan calls on government to drawdown K90m

ONE of Papua New Guinea’s largest and richest mining electorate is calling on the national government to immediately appropriate K90 million in the 2011 national budget  which is expected to be handed down next month.

The Namatanai electorate in the New Ireland province which houses the multi-billion Lihir and Simberi mines and contributes nearly K500 million annually to the national purse has for the last 15 years seen no real tangible development in the electorate.

Its member for parliament Byron Chan re-echoed earlier concerns he made saying the government as per the Lihir Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) has not honoured its commitments.

He said to date major developments and infrastructural impact projects are stalled because of the national government’s lack of commitment.

This includes the resealing and redevelopment of the Boluminsky highway, the upgrading of Namatanai hospital and the outstanding mining grants each costing K30 million.

Mr Chan also argued that if the government can honour commitments made elsewhere like the Gulf and Southern Highlands provinces then Namatanai or New Ireland is no exception.

“This is very unfair on the part of government because in real terms Lihir has contributed a lot and it is Lihir today that stands as security to allow the government to secure massive financial borrowing to kick start the multi-billion PNG LNG project. Where is the fairness?”

The member further called on the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to release the K30.2 million in outstanding mining grants as promised in the last session of parliament.

Sir Michael stated that “New Irelanders will get their K30.2 million, as promised and reflected in the 2010 budget, the outstanding mining grants derived from Lihir.”  

Former Finance and Treasury Minister, Patrick Pruiatch, and former Mining Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu also acknowledged the Prime Minister’s statements to release the funds.

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