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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chan condemns MRA boss

MINING Minister Byron Chan has described acting Mineral Resource Authority Director Kepas Wali’s recent public statement against New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan in the media as outrageous and in total disrespect.

He was responding to recent comments Mr Wali made in a full page paid press release regarding the implementation of Public Investment Program (PIP) projects under the Lihir MOA and Simberi.
Mr Wali said in his statement that he had followed due process in executing the expenditure of PIP projects and that earlier outburst by Governor Sir Julius for lack of consultation and in breach of protocol is uncalled for.
However, Minister Chan in support of the provincial government has condemned actions of Mr Wali saying he has failed measurably to consult the provincial government in implementing the original Lihir MOA commitments and revised MOA commitments as well as non payment of Special Support Grant (SSG) and Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG) to New Ireland Provincial Government.
“Basically the fact that MRA acting MD (Kepas) completely failed to administer original Lihir MOA commitments that Sir J as Prime Minister in 1995 agreed on four major infrastructure projects and revised MOA commitments of May, 2007 estimated around K400 million in the Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
“MRA should admit that it has led the State into confusion and the province into conflict. This is total blunder and slap in the face of the government of New Ireland.
“I believe other mining provinces are also affected by MRA’s lack of attention and focus as Namatanai district, my electorate,” Chan said.
He said any consultation must go through the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) and this has not been adhered to by MRA boss thus, bypassing normal government protocols and procedures.
The minister added that all PIP project expenditure where clearly outlined or captured in the provincial budget and it was only fair the acting Managing Director should work within the framework of the budget in delivering the projects.
Furthermore, while Mr Wali claims that all is well in delivering PIP projects in the province Chan said he (Mr Wali) has failed to address existing MOA reviews of Lihir, Simberi and Nautilus.
“The provincial government must be given the recognition and representatives of MRA must follow proper procedures and laws under the MOA. The failure has led to Lihir LLG and landowners of Simberi not receiving their royalties when I intervened as minister,” he said.
The Minister also questioned the motive why there was huge PIP project expenditure concentrated on Namatanai electorate alone and not others as highlighted by Mr Wali in his media statement.
He said the focus on delivering PIP projects should also go to other mine impacted provinces in the country such as Porgera, Tabubil, Ramu, Yandera, Bougainville, Sinivit, Wafi Golopu and Hidden Valley.
“I as minister I’m ashamed that all PIP projects have been directed to my Namatanai electorate. The focus on Namatanai has been shameful and total disrespect for the country and other mining provinces.
“I also question the current nature of PIP expenditure disbursement in my electorate which I believe is a conflict of interest and deliberate campaign strategy using public office. I will refer the matter to appropriate authorities for further action.
“I call on Kepas to restrain from making public statements on this matter and should not take credit but apologise to the people of New Ireland and the country as a whole for not financing the NIPG budgets for the past four years with outstanding SSGs and IDGs and other projects listed in revised MOA of May, 2007 which the State is obliged and MRA is responsible for,” Chan said.

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