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« Companies pass judgement: things are worsening in PNG | Main | There is no better time to pay LNG landowners their money »

16 May 2018

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I thought I read a fairly substantial commentary by Dave Ekins on this topic a day or two ago, but it appears to have disappeared.

Perhaps I was having another senile moment but given that Dave was very much involved in managing community affairs in the Huli/Kutubu Region for several years, I would have thought his comments deserved to remain in situ as there was nothing in them that was incorrect.
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The home page only shows the 10 most recent comments. Dave's perceptive contribution is still available on the site. You can find it under Phil's original piece here https://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2018/05/oil-search-blames-png-government-for-slow-payments.html - KJ

I've found that too Michael.

These people are out there working hard despite the treatment they get from Port Moresby.

Teachers running schools without pay or equipment. Medical orderlies running clinics without medicines or pay, the list goes on and on.

It's almost like there are two countries, Port Moresby and PNG.

There are some good government officers in the Districts and Provinces, like your Lands officer.

The scum of government mostly operate out of Port Moresby, and where their filth overflows into Districts and Provinces is where the rot sets in.

That's my opinion.

I actually tried this system out a few years ago, once down the coast from Port Moresby and once at the bottom of the Yuat Gorge on the border of Enga and East Sepik.

I was prompted to try by the passage of the amendments to the Incorporated Land Groups Act which had finally come into operation after sitting on the books for several years.

They were only small scale mining projects at the exploratory stage.

In the Central Province case the company was at its wits end after unsuccessfully trying to negotiate with the various groups claiming to be landowners.

The directors of the company were also rusted on old PNG hands who believed you had to be hard-nosed to deal with villagers and it was hard work trying to convince them to try something new. Eventually they saw reason.

In the Yuat River case the company was just beginning the exploratory process and was prepared to look at alternative ways of approaching the landowners.

In the first case the company was very reluctant to spend any more time and money but in the second case the company was prepared to run with the process and allocate sufficient resources.

Neither project proceeded to the development stage but I was quite happy with the outcomes and so were the companies, the clans and the landowners.

One of the things that appealed to the landowners was that once they had got their clan lands registered and themselves incorporated they were in a position to directly negotiate with the company without government interference.

In the Yuat River project we had a lot of valuable assistance from the Provincial Lands Officer. I can’t commend him high enough.

Money had already been passed under the table in the Mines Department so there was no problem there.

Where we ran into trouble was with the Lands Department in Port Moresby. We had to get the clans and their boundaries registered and this was a nightmare. In the end we resorted to bribing responsible staff.

That aside, the system seemed to work.

I think the crucial elements are getting the government out of the landowner benefits system and convincing landowners that it’s up to them to sort out ownership issues.

Assistance can be given by the company for this latter element but the landowners must understand that no resolution means no payments.

This makes too much good sense Phil.

So clearly your suggestion will not be considered useful by the government.

Oh well, it was worth a try, right?

Listen to the voice of experience - solution highly recommended.

Greedy Hela landowners have made their way to Port Moresby and can be seen in the lobbies of all major hotels in the capital to get what they can for themselves. Never for their clans.

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