From the Mining Seminar as reported by the Post-Courier

Despite hosting some of the largest mining companies in the country, Papua New Guineans are still "virtually poor", says Madang Governor and former Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet.

He challenged the National Government and the bureaucracy to come up with proper benefit sharing mechanisms and policies so that Papua New Guineans saw tangible benefits from the mines they hosted.

He said PNG still ranked poorly in development indexes world-wide and "where does all these wealth go to?" he asked.

He said resources were not being applied in partnership with all provincial governments.

Sir Arnold also said that 50% of the children in the country did not start school and life was very poor.

His statements came out after Mineral Resource Authority managing director Kepas Wali explained to the 2009 Mining Seminar particpants yesterday (Thursday) how millions of Kina was being received by the State and landowners in royalties and equities and other benefits as agreed to between the State and the developers.

Sir Arnold said the controversial bill on resources ownership being transferred to landowners or individuals to be introduced by North Fly MP Boka Kondra would not go away and decisions had to be made now to ensure benefits from these mineral projects were shared fairly and transparently.

He said the MRA was spending more on settling disputes on landowner benefits and yet there was no proper policy on how benefits should be distributed to landowners following set guidelines.

"There is no standard (benefit) distribution mechanism;" he said.

"We are spending too much time on negotiations."

He said the mining industry "might look rosy" but the benefits were not going down to the people.

"People are still relatively poor;" Sir Arnold said. "We (Government and bureaucracy) should put ourselves in the position of our people.

"The management of our resources is poor and these issues need to be addressed immediately," he added.   



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