It is now 371 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was told that the SABL leases were unlawful and should be revoked.
But we are still waiting for the leases to be cancelled and the logging stopped.
For 371 days O’Neill has failed to implement the Commission of Inquiry findings, failed to revoke the SABL leases and been complicit in the illegal logging of forest resources by foreign logging companies.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.
Forest Minister makes promises but O’Neills illegal SABL logging still ongoing
PNG Loop is reporting that logging activities in 44 land areas obtained under Special Agriculture Business Lease will cease as soon as the National Forestry Authority receives confirmation from the Lands Department that the SABLs have been effectively revoked.
Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa says at this stage 25 SABLs have been returned to landowners and revoked however NFA is yet to receive confirmation.
Tomuriesa says once confirmation is received from the Lands Department they will then proceed with putting a stop to all Forest Clearance Authorities issued by them to logging companies.
Tomuriesa has apparently appealed to critics to be patient as they commence implementation of government decisions.
Perhaps we might have more faith in the government if the Minister came clean and told us:
- Which are the areas is which logging has taken place under SABLs over the last decade?
- How many logs have been taken from each SABL area and by which logging companies?
- Where is logging still continuing under SABL?
via ACT NOW!
Papua New Guinea Government
National Executive Council
Decision No: 184/2014
Subject: MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON SABL
On 12th June 2014, Council:
1. noted the contents of Policy Submission No. 157/2014;
2. approved to repeal the provisions of the Structural Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) in the Lands Act to prevent anymore SABL dealings since there are other facilities in the Lands Act that allow for voluntary land tenure conversion to leasehold if customary land owners desire to do so;
3. directed that the Department of Lands and Physical Planning continue to observe the previous NEC Decision not to process or issue any more SABL;
4. approved to revoke all SABLs recommended by the two Commission of Inquiry (COI) Reports to be revoked;
5. directed that subject to formal legal advice from the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and the Department of Environment and Conservation review existing SABLs and where legally sound to apply appropriate administrative procedures, including the use of show cause notices to holders of SABLs;
6. directed that after proper scrutiny and legal advice the Ministerial Committee may screen all SABLs not assessed by the two COI reports and to make known its findings and recommendations on a case by case basis;
7. directed that where appropriate in the interests of all the parties involved, certain SABLs can be made compliant by following the proper guidelines to be established by the Ministerial Committee upon sound legal advice and taking into consideration the recommendations of the respective COI Reports;
8. directed the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) to continue to observe the NEC Decision to not issue any more Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to SABLs;
9. directed that the PNGFA be made a self-financing entity to be financed by a specific management levy based on export of all log and timber exports so that it can more properly implement its role as the regulator and facilitator of development of the forest industry in PNG;
10. directed that in place of the National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP), the Government establish an Agriculture Investment Corporation (AIC) as the investment vehicle for large scale agriculture developments which can also joint venture with resource owners to develop their timber resources in order to help landowners raise their equity in investment in large scale agriculture and re-afforestation projects on their lands;
11. directed that the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) take steps including legislative amendments to transfer administration of the Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) from the Department of Lands and Physical Planning to the IPA;
12. approved to establish a special SABL taskforce staffed by persons not previously involved in the issuance and administration of the SABL to be based with the Forest Ministry which shall report to the Ministerial Committee on SABL with an initial budget of K3 Million to:
- (a) address matters raised by the findings of the COI,
- (b) implement the recommendations of the COI,
- (c) investigate all the other SABLs not investigated by the COI; and
- (d) follow up the Decisions of the Ministerial Committee and the NEC pertaining to SABLs.
13. directed that the Department of Finance immediately release K3 million to PNGFA to finance the operations of the Special SABL Taskforce; and
14. approved that the Ministerial Committee shall determine the membership and composition of the Special SABL Taskforce and its terms of reference and of engagement.
I Certify the above to be a correct record of the Decisions reached by the National Executive Council
Peter O’Neill, CMG Chairman
Ilagi Veali, MPS Secretary, NEC
Date: 18th June 2014
The Commission of Inquiry found Kila Pat was at the centre of widespread corruption and mismanagement in the Department of Lands – the departments tasked with protecting landowners. But, bizarrely not only has he escaped any sanction, he is now the man expected to oversee the revocation of the leases.
Kila-Pat was clearly surprised to be challenged about his role in the SABL scandal:
GARRETT: The commission of inquiry identified tha Lands department as one of the biggest areas where corruption had taken place. What are you doing to ensure that officer involved in corruption do face justice?
KILA-PAT: Actually, i think we need to understand the process of SABL before we conclude there is corruption. The department of Lands and Physical Planning plays a facilitation role. The people who drive SABL are basically the landowners. They themselves come forward to the department and say we want this land to be issued an SABL title and we just facilitate the process of issuing an SABL title based on landowner requests.
GARRETT: Nevertheless, the fact that 25 SABLs are being cancelled and the Commission of Inquiry did find a lot of problems in the Lands department. Will any of your officer be disciplined or stood down from their roles and a result of their role in what has happened?
KILA-PAT: that is very important. I have made my commitments. I have started dealing with officers already. As and when those who are found to be doing something wrong, my position is very clear that we don’t need to have them in the department. We should let them go. But at this stage, we still have outstanding issues to be dealt with by the task force so as soon as they complete everything, we will deal with everything as it unfolds.
GARRETT: The Commission of Inquiry found you, yourself, had issued some Special Agricultural and business leases unlawfully. Should you be in charge of the department as it tries to fix this problem?
KILA-PAT: um, I think what has actually happened now is that I am not going to fix the problems because the task force has been set up so everything will be dealt with by the taskforce. Basically, there are a number of issues that we need to deal with. I think one that is very, very critical in nature is the legislation. OK. The legislation that deals with the issuance of SABLs needs to be changed but, in this case, we are now repealing that particular law that allowed for SABLs. We now have a new law which is under customary land registration where landowners can now come and register their customary land.
GARRETT: Will you be investigated along with other officers named in the commission of Inquiry report?
KILA-PAT: That is a matter of the task force, should the task force make those appropriate recommendations, then like I said, the government has now made recommendations for a task force to be set up to look into this matter.
Below is a list showing which SABLs the Commission of Inquiry recommended be revoked, surrendered, suspended, or which have already been nullified by the courts. The Prime Minister has announced a National Executive Council decision implementing the Commission recommendations.
Leases recommended to be revoked
1. Roselaw Limited and Dynasty Estates Ltd (Rimbunan Hijau). NCDC. Portion 160C. 25 hectares
3. Nuku Resources Limited Report and Skywalker Global Resources Company Ltd. Sandaun Province. Portion 26C. 239,810 hectares
4. Vanimo Jaya & One Uni Development Corporation and Vanimo Jaya Ltd. Sandaun Province. Portion 248C. 47,626 hectares
5. Bewani Palm Oil Development Ltd and Bewani Palm oil Development Limited. Sandaun Province. Portion 160C. 139,909 hectares
6. Konekaru Holdings Ltd amd CJ Ventures Ltd. Central Province. Portion 2465C. 457 hectares
7. Konekaru Holdings Ltd and CJ Ventures Ltd. Central Province. Portion 2466C. 457 hectares
8. Veadi Holdings Ltd and Leighton (PNG) Limited. Central Province. Portion 2485C. 1,057 hectares
9 -12. Changhae Tapioka (PNG) Ltd and Changhea Tapioka (PNG). Rigo, Centra Province. Portionsl 444C, 446C, 517C, 518C, 1521C, 520C. 20,000 hectares.
13. Okena Goto Karato Development Corporation Limited and Victory Planation Ltd. Tufi, Oro Province. Portion 146C. 28,000 hectares.
14. Cassava Etagon Holdings Ltd and Changhae Ethanol Cooperation. New Ireland Province. Portion 884C. 26,000 hectares.
15. Tabut Ltd and Tutuman Development Ltd. Lavongai, New Ireland Province Province. Portion 885V. 11,864 hectares.
16. Umbukul Ltd and Tutuman Development Ltd. Lavongai, New Ireland Province. Portion 886V. 25,108 hectares.
17. Central New Hanover Ltd and Tutuman Development Ltd. Lavongai, New Ireland Province. Portion 887C. 56,592 hectares.
18. Rakubana Development Ltd and Tutuman Development Ltd. Dolomakus, New Ireland Province. Portion 871C. 29,581 hectares
19. North East West Investments Ltd and Independent Timbers & Stevedoring Ltd. Western Province (Trans Papuan highway). Portion 27C. 149 117 hectares.
20. North East West Investments Ltd and Independent Timbers & Stevedoring Ltd. Western Province (Trans Papuan highway). Portion 1C. 470,462 hectares
21. Tosigiba investment Ltd and Independent Timbers & Stevedoring Ltd. Western Province (Trans Papuan highway) Portion 14C. 632,538 hectares.
22. Tuma Timbers Investment Ltd and PISA American Lumber Joint Venture Ltd (comprised of 90% Independent Timbers & Stevedoring Ltd and remainder Tuma Timbers Development Ltd). Western Province (Trans Papuan highway). Portion 1C. 790,800 hectares.
23. Baina Agroforest Ltd and NASYL No 98 Ltd then transferred to PMS Timber Ltd. Central Province. Portion 29C 42,100 hectares.
24. Yumi Resources Ltd and Aramia Plantations Ltd. Central Province. Portion 30C. 115 000 hectares.
25. Brilliant Investment Ltd. East Sepik Province (area already subject to logging). Portion 146C. 25,600 hectares.
26. Sepik Oil Palm Plantation Limited, Limawo Holdings Ltd and Wewak Agriculture Development Ltd . East Sepik Province. Portion 54C vol 15 folio 52. 116,840 hectares.
27. Urasir Resources Ltd and Continental Venture Ltd. Madang Province. Portion 16C. 112,400 hectares.
Leases to be surrendered
1. Wammy Limited and Global Elite Ltd. Sandaun. Portion 27C. 105,200 hectares.
2. West Maimai Investment Ltd/Yankok Resources Ltd/Palai resources Ltd and Gold World Resources Co (PNG) Ltd. Sandaun. Portion 59C. 149 000 hectares.
Leases already revoked by the courts
1. Musida Holdings Ltd. Tufi, Oro Province. Portion 16C. 211,600. Revoked by Justice Canning – 2 Jan 2010.
2. Musa Valley Management Company Ltd and Musa Century Ltd. Tufi, Oro Province. Portion 17C. 320,060 hectares. Revoked by the National Court.
3. Mekeo Hinterlands Ltd and CP Sawit Ltd. Central Province. Portion 45C. 116,400 hectares. National Court declared the lease null and void.
Leases recommended to be suspended
1. La’Ali investments Ltd and Sovereign Hill (PNG) Ltd (owned by RH). Western Province (area currently being logged by RH). Portion 5C. 7,170 hectares. Recommended that the lease is suspended.
2. Mudau Investment Ltd and Sovereign Hill (PNG) Ltd (owned by RH). Western Province (area currently being logged by RH). Portion 6C. 10,450 hectares. Recommended that the lease is suspended.
3. Foifoi Ltd and Sovereign Hill (PNG) Ltd (owned by RH). Western province (area currently being logged by RH). Portion 29C. 33,900 hectares. Recommended the lease is suspended and land investigation report re conducted. Lease be reduced to 40 years.
Other recommended remediations
1. Emirau Trust. Erimua Island, New Ireland Prince. Portions 53C – 58C. 3,384 hectares. Legal requirements not met for granting the lease, has recommended MOU has no binding effect and Erimua Trust must be restructured.
2. Tabut Ltd, Umbukul Ltd and Central New Hanover Ltd and Tutuman Development Ltd. New Hanover, New Ireland province. 75% of New Hanover island. Further investigation (including criminal investigation) due to major irregularities.
3. Godae Land Group Inc operating as Godae Holding Ltd and Sovereign Hill (PNG) Ltd (owned by RH). Western province (area currently being logged by RH). Portion 7C. 15,153 hectares. Recommended the lease is amended for 25 years and a developer with agricultural skills be engaged.
4. Haubawe holdings Ltd and Sovereign Hill (PNG) Ltd (owned by RH).Western province (area currently being logged by RH). Portion 9C. 11,110 hectares. Recommended the lease is amended to 40 years and a developer with agricultural skills be engaged.
5. Abeda Agro Forest Limited and Albright Ltd. Central Province. Portion 409C. 11,700 hectares. Despite serious irregularities recommended only the sub lease is revoked.
6. Nungwaia Rainforest Management Alliance Ltd, Wawaka Agro Commodities Cooperative Development Corporation, SPZ Enterprises PNG Ltd and Geoff Palm Ltd. East Sepik Province. Portion 55C. 109,500 hectares. Project agreement is rescinded and size of lease reduced. The land investigation report be re activated and all permits reissued.
7. Mapsera Development Corporation Ltd and Gold World Resources Company (PNG) Ltd. East Sepik Province. Portion 54C vol 18 folio 06. 54,384 hectares. Retain the lease (despite serious legal and procedural flaws) and review the sub lease agreement, resolve the conflicting boundaries, the developer provides a business plan and finds a suitable partner with agricultural experience.
Leases to remain
1. Kemend Kelba Kei Investments Ltd and Pacific Arabica Coffee Development Corporation. Biayer, Western Highlands Province. Portion 155C. 41 hectares. Noted the dispute between the leaseholder and developer but no other problems identified.
2. Porom Coffee Ltd and Pacific Arabica Coffee Development Corporation. Western Highlands Province. Portion 302C. 24.1 hectares. Noted the dispute between the leaseholder and developer but no other problems identified.
3. Hewai Investment Ltd. Southern Highlands Province. Portion 351C. 358 hectares. No problems full consent of landowners and all represented through Hewai Investment Ltd.
4. Zifasing Cattle Ranch Ltd. Morobe Province. Portion 79C. 374 hectares.
Lands Department Secretary Romily Kila Pat has has his dirty thieving hands all over the SABL land grab scandal – as we detail below.
But this is the man Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is entrusting with the job of revoking the illegal leases!
This is a complete joke and it shows just how shallow the Prime Minister’s commitment is to dealing with the SABL land grab.
Kila-Pat claims he has directed officers to start de-registering some of the leases identified in the Commission of Inquiry but how can we have any confidence in that process given Kila-Pat should be residing in Bomana!
Here are some of the findings of the Commission Inquiry relating to Kila-Pat:
Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]
“…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]
there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process”… “His [Kila-Pat] conduct was ‘highly suspicious” [p164]
Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. [p59]
The lease issued by Kila Pat was so “fundamentally flawed” … it is “null and void” [p898].
According to the Commission of Inquiry Romily Kila-Pat was at the heart of some of the worst cases of abuse including:
- Kila Pat as acting Secretary unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2465C in Central Province. Almost everything possibly wrong with an SABL was wrong with this lease. There was no valid Land Investigation report, no public hearings, no Certificate of Alienation, no informed consent from local landowners, the lease was issued to a non-landowner company owned by a single person with no connection to the land, the process was “hijacked” by DLPP and duress was used. The sublease was unlawful and the lease-lease back agreement fraudulent. The SABL was “improper and unlawful” [p157].
- “…Romily Kila-Pat deliberately decided to ignore and by-pass the existing protocols and practices… when [he] decided to grant three separate SABLs … over Portions 2456C, 2466C and 2485C”. [p153]
- Kila-Pat granted the SABL for Portion 2466C (457 hectares) when there was “misrepresentation and fraud involved in the whole process” [p164]. His conduct was ‘highly suspicious” and the “Intimidation tactics used by officers from DLPP and the lawyers… is both unacceptable and unprofessional”. [p164]
- Kila-Pat unlawfully issued the SABL for Portion 2541C in Port Moresby which ended up in the hands of Rimbunan Hijau. The LIR was defective and unreliable.There was an obvious lack of landowner consent. No Lease-leaseback instrument was executed so the State never obtained the right to create or issue a title, hence the SABL was defective, invalid and unlawful. Mr Kila-Pat’s explanation is “critically faulty and arguably deceptive” and “untenable under any circumstances”. Mr Kila-Pat “unlawfully caused a SABL to be created, which he further unlawfully granted to an entity not even agreed upon by the landowners” [p 59]
- Kila-Pat unlawfully issued an SABL over 22,850 hectares of customary land in Portion 40C in Sandaun Province to Ainbai-Elis Holdings Ltd in December 2010. Kila-Pat granted the SABL despite the fact the Land Investigation Process was not properly executed, the Land Investigation Report was badly done (and involved possible fraud and forgery), the Declaration as to Custom was not properly obtained, the SABL overlaps with an adjacent SABL (Portion 160C), and no transitional land rights were preserved (“a reckless failure” p75)
- Kila-Pat issued an unlawful SABL over Portion 16C (211,600 hectares) despite the lease being so”fundamentally flawed” [p898] it is “null and void” [p898]. The defects included a “blank LIR [which] basically nullifies the SABL lease” [p886] and which was and “reckless and negligent” [p886], no Certificate of Alienability, complaints the landowners were forced to sign papers at night and without knowing what they were signing and an agriculture plan that “is not feasible to implement” [p898]
It is now 364 days since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was informed that SABL leases have been used by foreign companies as a scam to illegally grab more than 5 million hectares of customary land.
For 364 days O’Neill has failed to revoke the unlawful SABL leases and been complicit in the illegal logging of forest resources.
Mr O’Neill last week said the National Executive Council has ordered some of the leases to be revoked and others will be further reviewed – but at this point in time NO leases have been cancelled and NO illegal logging operations have been stopped
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has aided and abetted the theft of logs worth hundreds of million of kina and the destruction of thousands of hectares of pristine forest.