The National Government is now looking into settling long-owed payments for shares in the oil palm businesses in Milne Bay and Oro provinces, Prime Minister James Marape said yesterday (011222) in Parliament.
Prime Minister Marape said this as he apologized to the people of Milne Bay and Oro for the inability of the past government to settle these overdue payments which he said have been outstanding for some 10 years.
He was responding to Milne Governor Hon. Gordon Wesley who wanted to know if anything was going to finally come from the shares being held at Kumul Consolidate Holdings (KCH). Governor Wesley asked:
“When will the National Government pay to the Milne Bay Provincial Government K52 million share payment from the previous oil palm company in Milne Bay that has been held with Kumul Consolidated Holdings for many years? For years, successive Milne Bay governors have been following up on these long overdue share payments currently held by Kumul Consolidated Holdings.
We are aware that the NEC has resolved to make a payment of K52 million owned to the Milne Bay provincial government as share payments which have been outstanding going back decades.” Prime Minister Marape said in response:
“I sincerely apologise on behalf of the past government, of which I was Finance Minister, and present government for the delay in remittance for what is due to your province.
“Last year, we undertook to look at the history surrounding what is due to Milne Bay and Oro provinces as a result of the transfer of these oil palm shares, shares that are held in trust by KCH.
“It was confirmed that the National Government owed the two provinces money in the transaction that took place dating back 10 years or so, if I am not wrong.
“I want to assure you and your provincial government and the people of Milne Bay that you are owed these payments.
“I give you my fullest assurance that at the earliest when we can put together something, we will send the money to you either in cash or kind.
“Oro Province is also working with us. We owe them almost a similar amount.
“There is a conversation going on that if KCH is not going to fully transfer the cash then we look at assets or something in kind for the provinces.
“We welcome you to the Office of the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises to progress this matter for your people and province,” PM Marape said.