By ISAAC NICHOLAS -thenational
THE state has been ordered to pay the New Ireland provincial government K400 million by Nov 19.
On Wednesday, the National Court ordered the state solicitor to liaise with the Mineral Resources Authority, MRDC and other key government agencies to agree on how to settle the claim.
Presiding judge Justice Ambeng Kandakasi directed all parties to return to court on Nov 9.
However, he expected the outstanding MoA payments to be settled by Nov 19.
He said the national government had, over the years, held the people of New Ireland at ransom when it failed to honour the agreement.
In welcoming the court decision, Namatanai MP Byron Chan said it was sad that the provincial government had to take the matter to court to be resolved.
“It is a day of mixed feelings.
“It is sad that we have to take the government to court after years of mediation and appeals, including our countless number of questions during parliament sessions.
“We are happy that justice has been served for the people and government of New Ireland,” Chan said.
“We anticipate that the court decision will force the government to honour its outstanding commitments.”
New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan said the provincial government had documents to prove that the prime minister had instructed his finance and treasury minister to pay New Ireland its money.
“Stupidly, I followed this assertion and punch this into the budget and, now, we have a big hole in our budget.”
Sir Julius said he felt sorry for the people of Southern Highlands that if they look closely at the New Ireland example, they would be fighting for their MoA funding in court for the next 20 years given the national government’s poor record.
Meanwhile, government sources revealed that the court decision would impact on the supplementary budget and budget proper to be handed down next month.