Minister Maru Visits Cocoland Sugar Development Project in Abau, Central Province

By: PNG Business News June 03, 2024

The Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru visited the Cocoland Sugar Development Project in Abau, Central Province recently. He was received by the Chairman of the company- Yaosoeng Sugar and Cane Consultant Company, Mr. Prapat Jenlapwattanakul and his team, the landowners, leaders of the community, and the people of Cocolands. Minister Maru described his visit as ‘a very useful visit’.

After visiting the project site, Minister Maru said: “I do appreciate now that there is enough grassland for the project, there is enough State land to build the sugar mill, and the local people are very supportive of this project.”

Minister Maru stated: “The process that we now have to follow is firstly, my Ministry will be putting together a NEC Submission to bring to Cabinet to endorse this project as a project of national importance. The Cabinet will basically approve that the Government must support this project and it will be developed as an SEZ meaning the company will be given incentives to invest here including tax holiday and duty-free exemptions. This is subject to phase two which is negotiations between the company, the landowners, the DDA, the LLGs, the local MP, the Provincial Government, and the State, to agree to the elements of the project like benefits for landowners, new wharf, power supply, etc which will be captured in the Project Agreement. The Project Agreement will be signed subject to the negotiations. After the signing of the Project Agreement, the State can give the land title to the company. The company will need the title to have security of land tenure so they can go to the banks to raise capital to build the sugar mill and to start this project. The shareholders of this project can be the State through KCH, the Central Provincial Government, and other investors.”

Minister Maru said this project was one of the most important projects for the Government and the country.

“Nothing must get in the way of this project- not politics and not self-interest. We must all focus on delivering this project,” said Minister Maru.

Minister Maru said as the Minister responsible for International Trade and Investment, he will be giving this project his highest priority.

“Without any investment we cannot build the economy of our country, we cannot create jobs, and we cannot generate wealth for our people. We need investments. This project will develop a township, create over 20, 000 jobs and significant business opportunities for the landowners who will be planting sugarcanes as out-growers and supplying the sugar mill, and the project will also deliver a power project- 45 megawatts to be used for the mill and 20 megawatts to be sold to PNG Power Limited to provide cheap and reliable power in Abau District. This is a very capable company and a serious investor- I have seen their operations in Thailand with my own eyes. They will spend over a billion Kina to make it happen from planting to milling of sugar, and the power station. This is the kind of investment that we need especially in the rural areas where the bulk of our people live,” said Minister Maru.

To the leaders and the people of Cocolands Minister Maru said: “The bulk of the sugarcane will be planted on traditional land, not State land. The Government will not acquire more land from you. You must keep your land so you can develop it and make money from your own land and your own sweat. It is the company’s job to train you, plough your land, and provide tractor and the seedlings. Look after the investor because we need them to help us develop this project so we can all benefit from it. We have to make this project happen and I need all your support.”

Spokesperson of the Gabina Clan said: “We are ready to support this project so we can benefit from it to improve our livelihood.”

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