Friday 2 December 2022

Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has assured the people of Milne Bay and Northern (Oro) Provinces, that the National Government was now looking into settling long-owed payments for shares in the oil palm businesses in the respective provinces.

Prime Minister Marape gave the assurance in Parliament yesterday (Thursday 1st December), and further apologized to the people for the inability of past governments to settle these overdue payments, saying, these have been outstanding for some 10 years.

He was responding to Milne Bay 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 the National Government would pay to the Milne Bay Provincial Government, K52 million share payment from the previous oil palm company in the province, that had 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 owed to the Milne Bay provincial government as share payments which have been outstanding going back decades,” Mr Wesley said.

Prime Minister Marape said he sincerely apologized on behalf of past governments, of which he was Finance Minister, and present government, for the delay in remittance for what was due to Milne Bay province.

“Last year, we undertook to look at the history surrounding what is due to Milne Bay and Oro (Northern) 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.

“I want to assure you and your provincial government and the people of Milne Bay that you are owed these payments.”

Prime Minister gave his assurance the government would settle the outstanding monies, 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.

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