Royalties won’t be touched by Govt: Marape

Royalties and development levies from projects held in Trust accounts will not be touched by the Government.

Finance Minister James Marape said the funds are quarantined under law and as such, will not be touched.

He was responding to Kandrian-Gloucester MP, Joseph Lelang, who asked why the Government has also taken money earmarked as royalties.

In particular, royalty held in Trust with the National Forestry Authority to be paid to head clans of integrated land groups and within the timber concession areas under various timber agreements.

“Government made decision recently to move all trust accounts from Government departments in commercial banks to oversight under Finance Department.

“No objection, but through exercise, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Government has taken money that does not belong to the state,” he said.

Lelang asked Marape to acknowledge that royalties do not belong to Government, that royalty funds are safe and for him to look at their trust accounts.

“Will the Minister acknowledge that timber royalty trust account monies do not belong to the National Government?

“Can the Minister assure our timber landowners that their royalties will be transferred to the PNG Forest Authority, to manage and disburse to them under the various agreements? Can the speaker also look into other trust accounts like plantation levies that are used for reforestation purposes?”

Marape said lately there has been confusion in the government efforts to consolidate funds in statutory bodies, state owned enterprises and agencies.

He said project agreement benefit funds such as royalties and development Levies cannot be touched.

“Let me assure the member and all our landowners in as far as forestry projects are concerned, that their royalty payments will not be touched by Government.

“These are their entitlements as defined and pronounced by law and we will not touch them,” assured Marape.

(Finance Minister James Marape)

Cedric Patjole