By BENNY SANDEKA
A LEADER of the oil and gas rich Southern Highlands Province is calling on the Prime Minister and Minister for Petroleum and Energy to work with umbrella associations of the respective landowner groups in both Southern Highlands and Gulf Provinces as per the 2007 Expenditure Implementation Committee (EIC) recommendation and not directly with any other companies "on the streets."
Landowner Leader of PDL 2 (South East Mananda) Himari Kipili, made this call following the emergence of a list naming more than 40 companies whose names appeared in a letter purportedly signed by the Prime Minister recognizing them to be paid under the Expenditure Implementation Committee of the Oil and Gas Act.
"We want to know if a letter dated 28th December 2008 bearing the signature of the Prime Minister and addressed to National Planning Minister, Paul Tiensten to release more K175 million is truly from the Prime Minister's office," Mr. Kipili said.
Mr. Kipili said if the letter is really signed by the Prime Minister, then he will be misleading the landowners and other stakeholders as there has not been any EIC meeting since 2007. The last EIC then has only 23 groups that have been recommended to receive MOA Funds. And he has warned those in hierarchy to work together with umbrella associations instead of individual companies.
Under a 2007 MOA Agreement, funds for project impacted areas in Gulf and Southern Highlands are to be channeled through the umbrella associations. Each incorporated land group within the project area then makes their submissions through the umbrella associations for funding.
But the current arrangement where different companies are making direct representation to the Prime Minister and the National Planning Minister to release K175.7 million to them (the companies on the list) has irked the landowners of PDL 2.
"Most of the projects listed in the letter relate to companies from Angore and Juha," Mr. Kipili said.
"Angore and Juha landowners are not entitled to the MOA Project funds. They are only entitled to seed funding and therefore, I believe the Prime Minister is either misled or his signature is forged," said Mr. Kipili.
Mr. Kipili wants the office of the Prime Minister to verify and confirm the contents of the letter before huge sums of money end up in the wrong hands.