EX-PETROLEUM and energy minister Francis Potape is fighting back at the O’Neill coalition government, claiming up to K70 million ($A31.5 million) was paid to hand-picked landowners of the PNG LNG project while other landowners missed out.
PNG LNG plant site as of July, 2011. Image courtesy of Oil Search.
Potape was recently charged over one count of conspiracy and another count of misappropriation but evidently his voice will still be heard.
“Millions of kina have been paid to certain hand-picked landowners that have been selected by the key departments of treasury and finance and petroleum and energy without following due process,” he said, according to The National.
“They have bypassed the expenditure implementation committee process and the Public Finances (Management) Act.”
Potape reportedly called on Petroleum Minister William Duma and Treasurer Don Polye to host a public forum next week to explain to landowners the process used to make payments.
“What about the landowners who do not have political connections? Will they get their money?” he said.
Nine village chiefs from petroleum development licence 1 covering the Hides field of the PNG LNG project have recently aired their disappointment over not receiving promised funds from the national government, a key PNG LNG stakeholder.
Potape’s short time as the petroleum minister only lasted from his appointment in June until the unexpected demise of the Somare government in early August.
William Duma was dumped as petroleum minister to make way for Potape in June but has since regained the role in the O’Neill government.