Home > Corruption, Land, Papua New Guinea > SABL Case Study 4: Department of Lands corrupt and incompetent

SABL Case Study 4: Department of Lands corrupt and incompetent

November 29, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

“With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders.” [Report 1 p242]

SABL Commission of Inquiry Reports 1 and 2

The Department of Lands is corrupt, incompetent and incapable of fulfilling its statutory functions or protecting the interests of customary landowners, according to the report of the Commission of Inquiry into SABL leases.

The Commission says that instead of working in the interests if the people, the Lands Department and other agencies are working with logging companies to defraud landowners.

Yet rather than implementing the clear recommendation of the CoI that the SABL leases be REVOKED, (CoI emphasis) the Prime Minister has tasked the Department of Lands with coming up with its own solution to the land grab that it facilitated. This is a ludicrous and illogical decision by the PM and is rather like asking convicted criminals not only to decide on their own punishment but also to advise on criminal law reform..

“DLPP has been plagued with problems for a long time. People criticized DLPP for being incompetent and corrupt, among them senior government ministers. The Department has been described as totally dysfunctional and incapable of managing the most important asset belonging to the people of PNG, their land.” [Report 1 p237]

The Commission of Inquiry has highlighted numerous instances of lands officers inexcusable behaviour, here are just a few examples:

  • “Officers from DLPP were collaborating with lawyers” and using “intimidation tactics”, conduct that was highly suspicious [Report 1 p158]
  • DLPP “highjacked the process”, while the conduct of the logging company was “unethical, improper and wrong”. [Report 1 p198]
  • “Lands Official … be investigated for criminal misconduct and conspiracy..” [Report 2 p503]
  • “The funding and time spent on the Land investigation is a testament of the continuing ignorance of DLPP Management and its field officers in safeguarding the interests of the landowners…” [Report 2 p372]

The Commission says it was also “shocked” with the “sheer carelessness, negligence and plain incompetence” of the Register of Titles and his staff within the Department of Lands. [Report 1 p238]

It is not only the Department of Lands that comes in for the stinging criticism, all the agencies involved in SABLs including Department of Agriculture, PNG Forest Authority and Department of Environment failed in their duties:

 “The Commission of Inquiry found widespread abuse, fraud, lack of coordination between agencies of government, failures and incompetence of government officials to ensure compliance, accountability and transparency within the SABL process from application stage to registration, processing, approval and granting of the SABL” [ Report 1 p235]

“We found numerous examples of incompetence, failure, inaction and lack of commitment by officers of government agencies to properly and diligently carrying out their statutory functions. Legal requirements were deliberately breached and proper processes and procedures were either by-passed or simply ignored… agencies were reckless, careless and negligent” [Report 1 p236]

The SABL CoI has recommended “the current SABL set up be done away with entirely” and the current leases be revoked (with the exception of a couple of genuine small coffee plantations in the Highlands).

But the Prime Minister is refusing to follow this advice. Instead he is asking the Department of Lands to head a task force to come up with its own set of recommendations – an approach the CoI warns will “not satisfactorily remove the loop holes, inadequacies or permissive ambiguities that are being used to abuse the SABL process and hijack land”. [page 5]

  1. kanex Kanarepa
    November 29, 2013 at 11:53 am

    You got it head on!! The Prime Minister is scared because alot of his Ministers, and Politicians in his Party & Government are involved or he himself is also involved in this saga.

    How can the Prime Minister tell the corrupt LPPD to come up with its own recommendation to ccorrect the situation??? They will never to anything because they are corrupt and are bound by the tentacles of corruption that they will never get released from the poison they have in their blood. They will come up with recommendations to save their assh!! How could you ask a convicted criminal to come up with the best type of sentence he wishes to be imposed on himself?? Crazy isn’t it?? GOD HELP the Poor people of this Country!!

  1. January 13, 2014 at 7:13 am

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