Government able to revoke SABL leases when it suits political agenda
What does it take for the government to stand by its promises and revoke an unlawfully issued agriculture lease?
An impending by-election seems to be the answer.
The people of Samarai-Murua will go to the polls next month to elect a new MP. The by-election was called after sitting member Gordon Wesley was dismissed from office for bribery (ironically he was the first to nominate for the new contest and has the backing of Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill).
Now, in a blatant piece of electioneering, the government has cancelled three SABL leases on Woodlark (Murua) island and committed to giving the title to the land back to the landowners.
Meanwhile the people living in 72 other unlawful SABL lease areas wait in vain for the Prime Minister to follow through on his numerous promises to revoke the leases over their land and give them back their titles….
As Gary Juffa has commented – CORRUPTION: WHEN PNG ruling party uses public funds to campaign for candidates in by election who had been ousted by the courts for bribery!
Portions of land to be given back to customary landowners
Post Courier: A LARGE portion of land on Woodlark Island, Milne Bay Province, earmarked for oil palm development has been forfeited to the State. It will be returned to the islanders, Milne Bay Governor Titus Philemon said, praising the actions by the Lands and Physical Planning Department to cause the forfeiture. “The forfeiture of the titles of the three portions of land to the State is a major victory for the people of Woodlark and the Milne Bay Provincial Government. “We have been fighting for the land to be returned to the islanders since 2000, and today we have won,” Mr Philemon said. While on a brief visit to the island on Wednesday, together with Petroleum and Energy Minister Ben Micah, the Governor also relayed the news of the forfeiture of the titles to the people, who received it with much joy. “Your claim that you are people of an island with no hope and no choice changes from today. Now you have much to hope for and to choose. Your land will be returned to you,” he told the people at Guasopa station. Vitroplant Ltd obtained the titles of the three portions of the State-owned land on the island on 99-year agricultural leases in 2007 with plans to develop an oil palm plantation. The leases cover a total 60,400 hectares, or 70 per cent of the land on the island. However, after nine years and no developments, the islanders and the Milne Bay Provincial Government had lobbied for the land to be returned to the customary owners. The State, through Lands and Physical Planning Department, decided to issue show-cause notices on Vitroplant last month. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in response to the calls for the return of the land to the customary owners also gave directions to the Minister Benny Allen last year to make necessary arrangements for this to take place. The forfeiture notice was gazetted on April 14, effectively annulling the leases and taking the titles away from the company. The forfeiture will now be registered under the Registrar of Titles then the process of declaring the land back as customary land to the landowners will begin.