Opposition Leader Patrick Pruaitch has called on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to release PNG LNG Project development levy funds for relief work and rehabilitation of earthquake-stricken areas in Southern Highlands, Hela and Western Province.

“These funds, amounting to at some K300 million, rightfully belong to the Provincial and Local Level Governments of the gas producing provinces, which presently are in dire need of urgent assistance,” Mr. Pruaitch said.

Mr. Pruaitch said there was nothing to hold back the release of these funds especially since part of the Development Levy had already been released to Southern Highlands and Hela prior to last year’s national election.

“These funds are there to be used in the best interests of the approximately half million people affected by the earthquakes, landslides and destruction of property following a spate of earthquakes that have occurred since February 26,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said a considerable amount of additional funds is stuck in trust accounts because of the failure of the National Government to complete a clan vetting exercise in Southern Highlands and Hela.

Other avenues for self-help would have been available if the Government had gone ahead with a decision to sell down PNG LNG Project equity to the landowners instead of playing politics with this issue.

He said: “There is also merit in ensuring that royalties owing to landowners for LNG production in the past five years are released before the operations receive the green light to commence operations once again.”

Mr. Pruaitch said although he was convinced there should be no impediment to the immediate release of funds from the Development Levy he was planning to visit the earthquake affected areas shortly to make a first-hand assessment prior to the convening of Parliament for the declaration of an emergency.



Leader of the Opposition

14th March, 2018