Home > Human rights, Land, Papua New Guinea > Landowners getting restless as PM refuses to revoke illegal leases

Landowners getting restless as PM refuses to revoke illegal leases

February 4, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Biggest Land Grab in PNG HistoryThere are reports coming in from around the country that landowners are becoming very frustrated and anxious over the failure of the government to revoke illegal SABL leases and restore more than 5 million hectares of land to its customary owners.

Commissioner Numapo says his Commission’s report is fueling the anger as it clearly spells out the leases are illegal, the landowners have been cheated and the leases should be revoked…

PNG Land Inquiry Commissioner wants action on flawed leases

ABC Radio Australia

The Chairman of Papua New Guinea’s land scandal Inquiry says action is needed to revoke flawed leases over millions of hectares of traditional land.

Three Commissioners took more than a year to investigate how 11 per cent of the country’s land mass was leased out and if landowners had given their consent.

Many of the leases are for 99 years.

In his first interview since the Inquiry finished Chief Commissioner, John Numapo, says it is clear 66 leases should be revoked and he expresses concern at the pace of government action.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Commissioner John Numapo

GARRETT: In the space of a decade more than 5 million hectares of Papua New Guinea’s traditional land was leased out under what are known as Special Agricultural and Business leases or SABLs.

The leases were meant for small agricultural projects but in many cases were used by logging companies, without permission of landowners, to get control over vast tracks of forest.

When Prime Minister Peter O’Neill presented the findings of the Inquiry to parliament, in September last year, he said the Inquiry had revealed a shocking trend of corruption and mismanagement.

The commisioners investigated 75 separate leases but because one of them Alois Jerewai failed to submit his report the Prime Minister was only able to present the findings for 42 leases.

Chief Commissioner John Numapo says, in the interests of landowners, Commissioner Jerewai needs to finish his report.

NUMAPO: He should have delivered his report because whatever the stated hiccough or financial difficulties that we experienced throughout the life of the Inquiry we all have gone through that and yet Commissioner Mirou and I were able to furnish our final report because we were given a deadline and that was made known to the whole lot of us. So really there is no real excuse for Commissioner Jerewai not to deliver his report. And I think that is the only setback, in my opinion, to what has been a very successful Inquiry.

Prime Minister O’Neill told parliament 38 leases had been found to be seriously compromised.

Commissioner Numapo, says even though Commissioner Jerewai has not reported his findings, it is obvious 66 of the 75 leases investigated did not have a legally valid certificate of alienability.

Mr Numapo says that means the government must revoke them.

NUMAPO: That is the only option that is available. The law is very clear on that. SABL process and mechanisms as covered under section 11 and 102 of the Land Act and the titles have to be properly issued. And if it does not comply with the process and procedures in issuing all these leases then obviously they have been unlawfully issued and therefore the only option is left now to the government is to have them revoked as per our recommendations and our findings.

GARRETT: No action has been taken to revoke the leases and the only action the government has taken so far is to refer the recommendations to an interdepartmental task force. Is the government moving too slowly?

NUMAPO: I would have thought so because the report was given to the government in June of last year and you know, it is almost probably 7 or 8 months now and the report has been tabled in parliament. And unfortunately it was only two reports, ah, but yes when the report was tabled in parliament I understand the Prime Minister made a commitment to ensuring the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry is implemented so we are all waiting on that to happen. Those recommendations have to be implemented because it is affecting the people and especially the customary landowners.

GARRETT: Are you concerned that the government is losing the will to act?

NUMAPO: As in everything else in PNG I think they will get to it one day but the sooner they move on it the better it will be. And I have seen recently in the local media that some landowners have got a copy of the report and are calling on the government to immediately implement the recommendations, particularly on the SABLs that have been unlawfully issued as there are findings and recommendations to have that lease revoked or surrendered, whatever the case is, and they have now called on the government to act on it and move quickly on it. So we will just wait on what the government might do in the next couple of months

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  1. valentine harry
    February 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    the sabl enquiry report is being done so please can the govt of the day act now…the customary land ownwers are suffering..what is the delay..act now…

  2. pkay
    February 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

    It is also very annoying to know that many of the landowners are so weak and vulnerable, so much so that when cash is flashed they lose all sense of pride and honesty and sell their land just for a few pieces of silver. The SABL is a rot that the buyers and sellers are both guilty for. Unfortunately, the Government is helpless to do anything especially when the deals are being done, delivered and sealed by hapless agents of Government called public servants. Just like the Cairns Conservatory Report, the Port Moresby Water Report, the Moti Report, the Barnett Forestry Report, the Report into missing millions from Finance/Treasury, and numerous other Reports, they will gather dust on the shelves or become fodder for silverfish on the carpet floors in Govt offices.

  3. Kadai Manio
    February 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    DOES THE FOLLOWING LINE OF CONVERSATION SOUNDS FAMILIAR???
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    “I have a fiduciary duty of care over the customary landowners to take their land (if it means compulsorily) for Business purposes and to make sure that in return the customary landowners basic needs and wants and their survival is better taken care of my me.”
    [BUREAUCRATS OF THE PNG EXECUTIVE DEMOCRACY & MPs, a.k.a -Pot Bellied self-esteemed big time crooks]

    “I desperately want a reasonable Portion to enhance my Business Interests.” [INVESTOR]

    “Forget about Procedures, MAKE ME AN OFFER”
    [BUREAUCRATS OF THE PNG EXECUTIVE DEMOCRACY & MPs, a.k.a -Pot Bellied self-esteemed big time crooks]

    “I need my rightful share, if not, where is ALL that has been Promised to me?All is not forthcoming, can my Government help me please?” [LANDOWNER]

    “Dont worry we will look into this matter and hold those people accountable and responsible to Justice” [BUREAUCRATS OF THE PNG EXECUTIVE DEMOCRACY & MPs, a.k.a -Pot Bellied self-esteemed big time crooks]

    “Hey Mate, Please gather the boys, form a Committee, and LET THE INVESTOR KNOW that there is a Hicough but tell them not to worry and assure them that ALL WILL BE TAKEN CARE OFF” [BUREAUCRATS OF THE PNG EXECUTIVE DEMOCRACY & MPs, a.k.a -Pot Bellied self-esteemed big time crooks]

    “Thankyou, and when can i know the results?” [LANDOWNER]

    “You will know when, ummm…..uummmm…..uummmmm…..when its ready” [BUREAUCRATS OF THE PNG EXECUTIVE DEMOCRACY & MPs, a.k.a -Pot Bellied self-esteemed big time crooks]

    “Thankyou boys, JOB WELL DONE! It calls for a celebration, ALL IS ON ME!!” [INVESTOR]

  4. February 7, 2014 at 3:02 am

    To any landowner readind this.

    Land and the resources on it are worth dying for. Where will you be without it? Countries around the world are at war becase of land!! If you lose your land, you lose everything. Rise up and Fight…if the government will not help. Help yourself!!

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