Home > Corruption, Land, Papua New Guinea > SABL Case Study No.1: Puka Temu and the Changhae Tapioka cassava project

SABL Case Study No.1: Puka Temu and the Changhae Tapioka cassava project

November 25, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

SABL Commission of Inquiry Report 1: Pages 174-198

“This is total alienation of customary land and we find the transaction to be highly irregular, improper and unlawful and defeat [sic] the whole purpose and intent of lease-lease back and especially, landowner participation… It goes against every grain of the concept of SABL” [p195]

 “Minster Temu’s direct involvement and active interests in the processing and approval of these SABLs raises a lot of questions” [p181]

 Landowners’ consent which is pivotal to granting an SABL was not obtained [p196]

 “The actions taken by the Minister … is unlawful and defeats the whole purpose of the SABL” [p189]

 “laws were breached and short-cuts were made to issue the grants” [p180]

 “The handling of the whole SABL relating to the cassava bio-fuel project … was a complete mess. {p181]

 “State lawyers involved in this project were reckless in the discharge of their official functions” [p189]

This Case Study includes seven Special Agriculture and Business Leases over Portions 444C, 446C, 517C, 518C, 519C, 521C & 520C 

SABL FINAL REPORT COVERThe 7 SABLs cover approximately 13,7000 hectares of both customary and State land within the Launakalana area of Rigo District in Central Province.

The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and Central Province Government decided to develop this cassava bio-fuel project under a public/private partnership. The project was approved in principle by the National Executive Council in July 2004 based on a submission from DAL which followed a proposal from Changhae Ethanol Corporation of South Korea (CHEC).

In February 2005 a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the State of PNG and CHEC through its subsidiary Changhae Tapioka PNG Limited (CTL) to develop a cassava bio-fuel project.

“the MoA was drafted by the developer – CHEC. The Government of PNG had very little input if not, none at all… This is apparent from the terms… which weighs very much in favor of the developer” [p193]

Immediately after the MoA was signed an ‘Inter Departmental Committee’ was set up comprising DAL, Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP), Departments of Central Province, Department of Trade and Industry (DT&I) and Investment Promotion Authority (IPA). The government allocated K1 million through the National Agriculture Development Plan in the 2007 and 2008 budget to support the cassava industry.

Customary landowners were encouraged to lease out their land under a ‘Land Mobilization Program’ to provide sufficient land for the cassava cultivation and processing of bio-fuel. Under the MoA the State was obliged to deliver a total land area of 20,000 hectares to make the project viable.

“The whole land investigation processes including completion of the LIRs [Land Investigation Reports] were done in a rush. The LIRs were incomplete and defective and not capable of producing an SABL… This clearly shows the lack of professionalism on the part of officers carrying out the investigations” [p196]

Seven SALS’s were granted to CTL, each for a term of 40 years. Eleven Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) representing 7 villages granted SABLs although only 6 ILGs were identified in DLPP records [page 177].

The total customary land included in the seven SABLs was 10,900 hectares together with 2,800 hectares of State land. This was 6,300 hectares less than the government was obliged to provide under the MoA.

For two SABLs two Notices of Direct Grant were issued, one signed by the then Secretary for DLPP,  Pepi Kimas, the other by the Minister for Lands, Puka Temu.

“There were a lot of inconsistencies in the manner in which direct grants were made by DLPP. In some cases direct grants were made directly to the developer – CTL whist some were issued to the registrered ILG” [page 179]

The direct grants to TCL were made by the Minister against the advice of DLPP and without the consent of the landowners – which DLPP says means the Minister was acting outside his powers and was cutting the landowners out of any direct benefits. [p180]

“The actions taken by the former Minister for Lands Puka Temu to issue grants directly to the developer – CTL without any agreement or approval of the landowners … is… unlawful”. [p180]

“There was a total lack of coordination, consultation and dialogue between the former Secretary of DLPP Pepi Kimas and his Minister for Lands Puka Temu resulting in the double issue of leases over the same portions of land… It was clear from the outset that both … were operating in total isolation and doing there own thing… It was a clear breach of existing laws including procedures relating to SABL and reflects badly on DLPP” [p181]

The project was expected to take 5 years to develop from 2007 and to achieve fu;ll completion by 2012 by which time an Ethanol Plant would be constructed for downstream processing. However to date only 800 hectares have been used for cassava production and no cassava has been sold yet. The project has come to a virtual standstill.

The MoA gives ‘exclusive monopoly’ to CTL to produce bio-fuel and other ethanol products in the country and is intended to prevent the cultivation and processing of other crops with the potential of producing bio-fuel such as jethropa, oil palm and coconut. This does not reflect the fact DAL has given approvals for jethropa and oil palm plantations which are fully operational in other parts of the country.

“There is no evidence to suggest the Environmental Permit has been issues to the developer and DEC has no records to verify a permit has been issued… it is unlawful for the developer… to proceed with the cassava project, especially the activities that have already been carried out on 600 hectares of land” [p197]


1. All the SABL leases/titles and Direct Grants are to be REVOKED forthwith [emphasis in the original]

2. The MoA be REVIEWED [emphasis in the original]

3. No further work be carried out on the project until new SABL leases and titles are properly issued

  1. Kristian Lasslett
    November 25, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Well done PNG Exposed in getting key features of the report out. These details deserve serious consideration. The unmitigated plunder of the country’s most vital natural resource, facilitated through hip neoliberal instruments – public/private partnerships – MOUs drafted by the developer, and illegal land transactions. Sadly this is systemic and systematic in PNG. The people deserve better.

  2. kanex Kanarepa
    November 25, 2013 at 9:55 am

    So were does all these end up after all the high end wheeling and dealing by Mr. Temu??. He will eventually send his people back to farm the land for casava and they will eventually eat casava again. What a Mess!!! Shame, shame!!

  3. R Jeremy
    November 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Is PNG Exposed prepared to leak the entire report to the public? I think most Papua New Guineans would like to read as there is a danger that this report (along with the other 2) will never see the light of day.

    • November 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      At over 1,000 pages it is a bit hard to ‘leak’

      • R Jeremy
        November 29, 2013 at 8:14 am

        Thanks for Responding PNG Exposed. Is it possible to upload in installments?

  1. January 13, 2014 at 7:13 am

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