Abel briefed on events

Acting Prime Minister, Charles Abel, has expressed disappointment over the attack on the Angore Camp facilities in Hela Province.

He said following upon his return from Canberra yesterday in which a meeting was convened with Ministers for Police, Attorney General, Petroleum, Acting Police Commissioner, and the Governor for Hela, for a briefing on the situation in the Southern Highlands and recent events at Angore.

Abel expressed his disappointment at the attack on the Angore camp facilities and that police were mobilised immediately to the scene to do their work.

The Acting Prime Minister said Landowners who have expressed their frustrations must understand some of the legacy issue in place which the Government is trying to address as well.

"We are all frustrated by the slow process in terms of landowner identification and ongoing court cases which is delaying some of the benefit streams to landowners.

“But this is no excuse to break the law or cause destruction that may even delay benefits further due to disruption of the project. Some of these are legacy issues our government is dealing with, especially the incomplete social mapping.

“Recently this exercises has been disrupted again by the earthquake. Our Government is determined to meet all obligations under the UBSA and LBBSAs even when oil and gas prices are low and revenue is constricted,” said Abel.

Abel said in relation to Angore, the Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism will commence shortly with funds having been provided for it to the Department of Petroleum.

The Business Development Grants are in trust and pending landowner court action still. Royalty funds were accumulating at the Bank of PNG and subject to the completion of LO identification.

"If there are other outstanding Ministerial commitments or otherwise we will address them through the Minister for Petroleum,” said Abel.

“I also appeal to those on social media to also be responsible in what they post so as to not mislead or incite further destruction and violence. It is irresponsible and can lead to unnecessary suffering of fellow Papua New Guineans and others including our own security forces. These people can also be subject to further action at law.”

Abel said the Government has ongoing emergency operations in Hela and the Southern Highlands particularly related to the earthquake and they will provide the necessary support here as well.

He advised that the Minister for Petroleum will immediately commence meetings with landowners from the relevant parties and prepare to visit the site as soon as possible to address their concerns.

Cedric Patjole