Archive

Archive for the ‘Land’ Category

Take Action On The Manumanu Land Deal

April 25, 2018 Leave a comment

See also –‘Gross manipulation and dishonesty’ over Manumanu land deals

Source: Post Courier Editorial

The K2 million administrative inquiry into the K46 million Manumanu land deal must not be a waste of hard earned public money and time.

Already the property of Parliament, this report presented last week by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as promised in the public interest, must now be decisively acted upon.

Its recommendations are crucial for establishing the formal terms of reference a formal Commission of Inquiry must operate under when it is set up.

And senior Government Ministers, politicians and senior public servants were implicated in the entire saga. It is only fair that the COI is established so that these people can be cleared.

But a COI can only be set up after final deliberation by the Supreme Court on the questions now before it to interpret regarding its process and relevance to such public inquiries.

And like Prime Minister O’Neill said, the process has not in any case prevented other investigating authorities including the police fraud squad, Ombudsman Commission and the Personnel Management Department from undertaking their own actions as they deem appropriate relating to the same matter.

Pending the final Supreme Court resolution of the reference on COIs, it should not be too difficult to deduce from the initial TOR of the administrative inquiry what should be pursued by relevant authorities now that the report has been tabled in Parliament.

The John Griffin QC led inquiry delivered as expected after their investigations since December, and good advice is now needed on progressing what has been recommended be it prosecution or further inquisition into the conduct of the people, public servants, Ministers and traditional landowners involved in the deal.

The initial assurance given by the Prime Minister when appointing QC Griffin and his team must be honoured in order to maintain the integrity of their findings and to also offset the due process of further perusal of the K46 million deal.

Mr O’Neill said then that the appointment will not prevent on-going investigations of the police fraud squad, the Ombudsman Commission and the Department of Personnel Management in respect of the staff and senior public servants that have been implicated in the matter.

He announced that the inquiry would look into the role of relevant Ministers, the role of relevant departmental heads and their officers, and heads of various state owned enterprises.

He said then that it would look at the role of the management of many of these organisations, the role of the Valuer General in terms of the valuations of the land that was purchased, and of course the recommendations of the inquiry was to be made to Cabinet within four weeks and a report to be Parliament on the findings.

That has already been achieved as promised by the Government.

But what is needed now is progressive action in order to conclude the findings and ensure any breaches of the law, corruption, abuse of office and criminal actions on the part of identified perpetrators are effectively brought to justice.

‘Gross manipulation and dishonesty’ over Manumanu land deals

April 24, 2018 1 comment

Ministers Pok and Duma have still to be cleared over their involvement in Manumanu land deal

“Gross amount of manipulation and dishonesty between the three key state agencies including Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited, Defence Department and Lands Department”.

Source: The National

THE disappearance of files from the Lands Department on the Manumanu land deal points to “corruption” and “conspiracy”, according to an inquiry.

The report of the inquiry into the land transactions and deals by the Ministry of Public Enterprise and State Investment, and Ministry of Defence, was recently handed over by chairman John Anthony
Griffin QC to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“The fact that the Lands Department files disappeared strongly supports the proposition that there was corruption involved and there is circumstantial evidence which supports the notion that there
was a wide-ranging conspiracy, such as the lengths some personnel in the Lands Department have gone through in removing all the files containing evidence relating to the transaction,” the report stated.

It said it needed a full investigation “to uncover the conspiracy”.

The report highlighted that the valuation of land Portion 406 at the cost of K46.6 million was so far in excess of the true value and was “fraudulently high”.

It said the Defence Council did not approve the land purchase “nor was there any feasibility studies being done on that portion of the land prior to the acquisition”.

The inquiry cleared the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited, State Solicitor, Land Titles Commission and their department heads of any wrongdoing.

It said there was a “gross amount of manipulation and dishonesty between the three key state agencies including Kumul Consolidated Holdings Limited, Defence Department and Lands Department”.

Filipino land grab doubles to 2 million hectares

March 28, 2018 Leave a comment

“Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil [sic] instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.”

The problem is, the PNG government doesn’t have even 100,000 hectares of land, let alone 2 million hectares. So whose land are they going to use – and how many Filipino rice farmers are we going to allow into the country?

See also:

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

On Piñol’s idea to rise with rice in Papua New Guinea

Source: Michael Makabenta Alunan – Business Mirror

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol’s proposal to “export” Filipino private sector-led rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea may have raised condescending eyebrows from economists and agriculture experts, but his novel strategy can perhaps open up vast potentials and unintended opportunities.

Thinking out of box? Piñol, a boxing aficionado early on in his career, even as a former journalist, long before he joined politics, was thinking out of the box when he proposed to bring high-end Filipino rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea.

Only over a week ago, Piñol went to Papua New Guinea, a British Commonwealth Realm, and got its Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to commit to come over to meet with President Duterte sometime in May and possibly cement bilateral economic commitments, followed by a treaty that can institutionalize any mutually beneficial arrangements.

However, top-notch economists and agricultural planners led no less by former Socioeconomic Secretary Dr. Cielito Habito and former Agriculture Secretary William Dar have criticized Piñol, asking two valid questions: 1) Why focus on “rice self-sufficiency” when we cannot compete against Thailand’s and Vietnam’s production costs of rice at P5 to P6 per kilo against P10 to P12 per kilo in the Philippines? Many economists would therefore advise to give up the elusive goal of self-sufficiency, and settle instead for food security while focusing on higher incomes from other high-value cash crops and livelihood activities; and 2) Why go to Papua New Guinea when we have more problems locally?

Can’t do away with rice yet. Speaking on March 22 before the 2017 Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. and San Miguel Corp.’s BINHI Agricultural Journalism Awards, Piñol argued we cannot simply abandon rice self-sufficiency, unless Filipinos change their diets and reduce their rice consumption.

For the poor, who survive on a hand-to-mouth existence, 80 percent to 90 percent of their income is spent on food, the bulk on rice to fill their hungry stomachs and less on real food. A study by Professor Jeyakumar, a rice dietary expert and one-time fellow of the International Rice Research Institute, noted that obesity of Westerners like the Americans is caused by almost 40 percent in high-fat diets, compared to Asians, whose average diets are composed of 67 percent carbohydrates, mostly rice, and only 21 percent fats. For the dirt poor, rice may even share as much as 90 percent of their diet.

As our traditional sources of rice imports, Vietnam and Thailand are also vulnerable to climate change with Thailand devastated by a tsunami years back, Piñol claims we must continue aiming for rice self-sufficiency and developing alternative sources like Papua New Guinea.

It’s no “Guinea pig,” it’s real! Piñol argues the rice-farming potentials in Papua New Guinea are real and tremendous based on actual pilot results. This makes Piñol’s idea no longer a “guinea-pig experiment,” referring to how scientists use rodents or laboratory rats, popularly called “guinea pigs.”

Actual rice-farming experiments done in Papua New Guinea yielded 8.5 metric tons per hectare, even without fertilizers, even double our national average yield of 4MT per hectare, he revealed in conversations while seated at the BINHI awards.

The reasons for this are 1) Papua New Guinea is blessed with good rainfall with its remaining lush forests and watersheds as evidenced by its vast rivers as wide as a kilometer, and easily diverted to feed irrigation canals; and 2) Papua New Guinea’s farm soils are vastly virgin and rich, unlike Philippine rice lands that are already toxic from four to five decades of chemical fertilizer and pesticide usage.

All the land to offer. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.

“PNG has only 8 million people and over 46.28 million hectares of land, mostly forest and agricultural lands, compared to our 105 million and 30 million hectares, respectively,” Piñol said.

Rice farming will mutually benefit both countries. Rice farming will be done exclusively by the private sector, but can tap Filipino workers. Any excess produce can be exported cheap to the Philippines, and any excess exported worldwide. For Papua New Guinea, producing its own rice is novel, as it had long been sourcing rice from former surrogate colonizer, Australia, which allegedly imports cheap rice from Vietnam, then sells it to Papua New Guinea by as much as P100 per kilo.

Pursuing the Papua New Guinea option is logical for Piñol, as we have limited rice lands of 4.8 million hectares. In fact, only 3.9 million hectares are planted to rice, of which only 1.2 million hectares have irrigation, the remaining 2.7 million hectares are rain-fed areas producing only once a year at low yields.

New sites, new sights? As an island archipelago, we have fewer flat lands suitable to rice producing thrice a year, but more sloping mountain areas with mixed eco-systems, including adjacent marine and mangrove areas. Piñol added traditional rice sites like Luzon and Bicol are ravaged yearly by 21 typhoons a year.

We won’t abandon these areas, but we need to develop new sites like Palawan, Samar, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, Basilan and Soccsksargen and, of course, in Papua New Guinea.

Piñol declared earlier that even former warzones in Mindanao and portions of military reservations like Fort Magsaysay’s 46,000 hectares, can be converted to production areas. This will realize the biblical phrase of “converting swords to ploughshares,” which we can call transforming arms into farms.

While Piñol is confident of hitting 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020, he says the growing population will overtake our capacity to produce. Thus, the need to develop new sites, and the urgency to keep our sights on new ideas, new technologies and even achieve unintended opportunities, which, ironically, are the very intended targets of our economists and experts. As we gain from new sites, old sites may slowly shift to non-rice, but more profitable commodities and other agro-processing ventures.

Illegal Logging Site Shut-Down, Asians Jailed

March 16, 2018 3 comments

BY NELLIE SETEPANO, Post Courier

AN illegal logging company operating in Northern Province was shut down and 13 Asians without work permits were locked up at the Popondetta cells.

Northern Province Police have confirmed the shutdown of the illegal logging company known as Northern Forest Products at Collingwood Bay, Wanigela with thousands of logs and heavy equipment impounded. All logs and equipment will be moved to Oro Bay.

Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Lincoln Gerari said police had acted on advise from National Forest Authority to move onto the site and shut it down after its illegal operations on 45,000 hectares state land that consists of portions 135, 136 and 137.

“We moved in last Friday and caught them off guard, the Asians were cooking pumpkins, and then fled into the bushes and our men went after them,” Gerari said.

When caught, the men complained that they were never fed properly and or paid by the site manager since arriving last September.

Police said the loggers arrived with no legal entry permits and are now arrested and charged under the Employment of Non-Citizens acts 2007. Aged between 28 to 50 years; 12 of the men are from Malaysia and one from Indonesia. This section provides for prohibition of employment without valid work permit. Separately, the site manager was charged for stealing logs on state.

According to police, the provincial government had a keen eye on the operations of the company that had entered into a partnership with landowner group called Aiso [Assor] Development Corporation under the pretext of doing agricultural business and growing cash crops like cocoa.

Northern Governor Garry Juffa who has been aware of the illegal operations and had brought the issue to the attention of National Forest Authority and ensured the shut down happened. He also visited the site after the raid and confirmed the shutdown.

Mr Juffa talked to the villages and assured those involved will be prosecuted.

The governor has been vocal about illegal aliens operating in the province and vowed to remove them.

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

March 7, 2018 3 comments

PNG’s Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Philippine’s Agriculture Secretary, Pinol

Media in the Philippines is reporting – see below – their Agriculture Secretary is in Port Moresby this week to sign a deal with the PNG government allowing Filipino farmers to plant rice on 1 million hectares of land. Is nobody concerned about this huge land grab and the influx of foreign workers?

Papua New Guinea rice-planting deal expected this week

Source: Business World

THE Philippines will sign this week an agricultural agreement allowing Filipino companies to expand their rice planting operations in Papua New Guinea.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will be flying to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday to finalize the deal, which will also include further cooperation in the tuna fishing industry.

“Our interest in Papua New Guinea also includes tuna fishing. We have five canneries owned by Filipinos in Papua New Guinea and we have long been dealing with them,” he told reporters Monday.

He said rice planting in Papua New Guinea helps address the issue of limited area for rice planting in the Philippines, as well as demand from the growing population.

The government-to-government agreement involves projected output of 8 million metric tons on an area of about 1 million hectares within five years. Some of the output will be sold to meet Papua New Guinea domestic demand while the remainder will be purchased by the National Food Authority.

The deal also involves a 100-hectare model farm for use by Filipino companies such as SL Agritech Corp., a producer of hybrid rice seed.

“We are encouraging private companies to invest there so that instead of importing from Thailand or Vietnam, our Filipino companies can invest there instead,” Mr. Piñol said.

Ten month delay on Manumanu inquiry is unacceptable

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been vocal in the media recently telling anti-corruption warriors to be patient and wait for the results of an administrative inquiry into the alleged illegal Manumanu land deals – transactions involving millions of kina in state funds and hundreds of hectares of land.

See also:

But it has already been ten months since the scandal erupted in the media. It was early February when the Prime Minister promised three investigations, a Commission of Inquiry (later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry) a police fraud squad investigation and an Ombudsman Commission inquiry.

Now the Prime Minister says the Administrative Inquiry is yet to complete its investigations and the results will be known in an ‘appropriate timeframe’ but given no clue as to what that means.

Meanwhile the people implicated in the scandal and their party are back at the heart of government and the police and Ombudsman Commission are completely silent.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we are all victims of government corruption; corruption that O’Neill is happy to see continue while he sits on his hands.

Juffa slams ‘another logging scam’

November 1, 2017 2 comments

Inspection of Ifane Agro Forestry Project

Update by Gary Juffa via FaceBook

As usual as has been the case with such dubious projects done without the approval of my Office and the Provincial Executive Committee.

This is the other Forestry scam besides SABL: FCA – FOREST CLEARING AUTHORITY.

Here public servants in provinces corroborate with PNGFA officials and dubious “landowners” to award permits via the PNGFA BOARD to log chunks of land of 500 hectares to logging pirates on the pretext of “tree growing” and “agricultural projects”.

Thing is.. these are the same plunderers who pay no taxes and have planted no trees or a single agricultural species of plant or animal life for the last 20 – 30 years…

My inspection in reaction to landowner petitions revealed massive breaches of various laws including environmental, trespassing, labour, transport, migration and others.

I took Administration officials who confessed giving approvals without bringing to my attention first. The officials were showed the various areas of concern that the company blatantly logged in breach of various laws and instructed to act immediately and impose penalties.

Interviewed some of the landowners who all admitted they are “partners”.. but have not been paid.. despite truckloads of high value logs leaving their land.

Meanwhile a dispute remains as to who are actual landowners.

Instructed PNGFA and Administration to immediately furnish documents for the so called project, instruct company to cease operations until they pay fines for all breaches and we have investigated their legality of operations, inform all clans to congregate end of November to deliberate on damages and trespassing and compile case to sue for damages.

See also – Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

October 28, 2017 1 comment

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker

Industry observer: “This is a complete nonsense… a cocoa project simply doesn’t need a massive hectarage, involving massive forestry clearance and equipment… It’s clearly another completely fraudulent exercise, made easier by the lack of penalties imposed upon the existing SABL perpetrators”

By Lester Seri

The National Forest Authority has granted permission for logging in the Collingwood Bay area of Northern Province despite the strong opposition of local people.

This is the third attempt at large-scale commercial logging in the area, the two previous attempts having been successfully defeated through the courts.

It is understood Northern Forest Products Ltd and Aisor Development Corporation have been issued a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to log Portions 136, 137 and up to Baruga lands  and to the Musa river.

According to the maps seen, its seems the entire Collingwood Bay area is to be consumed by logging under the pretext of planting cocoa.

Local people have been given no information about the proposed logging and have not seen a copy of the FCA proposal, or any approval granted by the National Forest Board or the Forest Minister.

Requests to the Forest Authority for these documents have gone unanswered and local people are totally in the dark as to how the authorities could give approval without even consulting local people and without ensuring their consent.

Meanwhile a company (allegedly involving a Malaysian and some Wanigela landowners) has been landing logging equipment at  Wanigela since April this year. The equipment is being stored at Naukwat village, a home to one of the people known to have been directly involved in the illegal Collingwood Bay SABL that was declared illegal by the National Court in June 2014.

Collingwood Bay landowners are at a loss to understand the continuing defiance by the National Forest Authority to grant licences for logging concessions in their area despite court rulings after court ruling in favour of the landowners that span nearly 30 years.

There are rumours that the Provincial Government and the Administration are in support of a cocoa project in Collingwood Bay, and it is alleged that the new FCA and movement of logging machineries have their approval?

Questions asked are:

  1. Why have the landowners not been officially made aware of this government sanctioned cocoa project?
  2. Why does the cocoa planting require bulldozers, jinkers and graders, when the landowners need only knives, spades and axes to plant cocoa.

The Baruga landowners have already put up tabu markings stopping anybody moving into their private land.

The National Forest Authority has miserably failed many landowning communities’ in Papua New Guinea over the years and continues to do so in Collingwood Bay through the illegal SABL and now this suspect FCA.

The Collingwood Bay people have held community consultation forums since 2014 and have unanimously agreed to pursuing their own Community Conservation Initiative. This received final community approval in April 2017, and funding support has been secured.

It seems the National Forest Authority is intent on deliberately truncating / DESTROYING the Communities’ Conservation Initiative over 650,000 hectares of land by encouraging logging without the consent of the local people.

I AM OF THE STRONG VIEW THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE ENTIRE COLLINGWOOD BAY COMMUNITIES’ TO CONVERGE AT WANIGELA AND DEMAND AN EXPLANATION FROM THOSE CONCERNED, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION, AND THE RESPECTIVE FORESTRY OFFICES IN PORT MORESBY AND POPONDETTA.

The Midas Touch and Papua New Guinea’s kleptocracy

August 30, 2017 3 comments

Papua New Guinea’s new investigative website, PNGi Central, has published an in-depth examination of the career of Peter O’Neill that has largely escaped notice in the chaos of the elections.

Published in three parts – Secret Millionaire; The Big Skim; and Lift OffThe Midas Touch lifts the lid on how corruption thrives in Papua New Guinea and how politicians abuse their positions and milk the system to build considerable private fortunes.

The Midas Touch shows Papua New Guinea as a classic kleptocratic state ruled by a small elite or oligarchy, who exploit the nations natural resources and steal. They enrich themselves at the expense of the majority. This kleptocracy is currently led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Over the last twenty-years, O’Neill has abused his various political positions to enrich himself by building a network of companies that have benefited from government and foreign aid contracts, soft loans and broader policy decisions.

While in public office it is estimated that O’Neill has amassed a personal fortune of well over K150 million, all the while juggling complex conflicts of interest as his companies have benefited from government policy and spending decisions.

In addition:

  • O’Neill liquidated assets valued at more than K100 million in the lead up to this year’s national  elections;
  • His hidden corporate interests include shareholdings in more than 30 companies including hospitality, real estate, finance, retailing, air transport, communications, information technology, mining support, funeral services and construction;
  • His companies have been given contracts by the Australian government and Asian Development Bank, among others, and are frequently used by the mining and other foreign-owned industries;
  • He has directly benefited from fraudulent land and property dealings documented in two Commission’s of Inquiry; and
  • O’Neil has completely failed to comply with companies legislation on the timely, proper and complete filing of financial returns.

According to The Midas Touch, the story of O’Neill’s business empire starts in 1997, when O’Neill was plucked from obscurity and appointed to positions in various State Owned Enterprises by the notoriously corrupt Prime Minister, William Skate. O’Neill immediately started to use these positions to enrich himself and his his business partners.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though, O’Neill flirted with disaster when many of his early scams became the subject of two major Commission’s of Inquiry into the National Provident Fund and Investment Corporation. O’Neill survived however, and used his election as an MP and subsequent appointment to various Ministerial positions to substantially grow his business empire, an empire that has flourished since O’Neill seized the Prime Ministership in 2011.

Along this journey, O’Neill has surrounded himself with a small group of close associates, many of them Australian’s, who run his companies and with a coterie of businessmen and lawyers who have profited from his abuses and protected him from scrutiny.

Here is a quick summary of what you will find in the three parts of The Midas Touch.

Part 1. Secret Millionaire: How Peter O’Neill and associates have made a killing 

In the space of 20 years, Peter O’Neill has built a business and political empire. Secret Millionaire introduces us to the businesses and the players behind O’Neill’s rise and his early years as a student, accountant and struggling businessman before his big break when he is appointed head of various SOEs.

Part Two. The Big Skim: Peter O’Neill Inc meets Don Sawong and Tos Barnett

In 2003 and 2007 the O’Neill empire was rocked by two COIs. Part II of The Midas Touch looks into the unwieldy scams, and shams, it is alleged Peter O’Neill became an expert in.

Part Three. Lift Off: Prime Minister, Millionaire

As O’Neill’s political career went from strength to strength after 2011, so did his business empire. Part III of The Midas Touch looks into some of the more controversial deals and contacts that led O’Neill to become one of the richest men in PNG.

The faces behind some of PNGs illegal logging

August 18, 2017 2 comments

Chih-hao Chang, Hung Chin Ng and Sie Miew Tiong are the owners of Achim Agro Limited, a company accused by locals of illegally logging in East Sepik Province – see story below. The reports of SGS, the company that is supposed to monitor all log exports from PNG, contain no record of Achim Agro Limited.

Chang, who is Chinese, Ng and Tiong, who are Malaysian, are also the owners of two other PNG registered companies, Grace Foremost Limited and Wewak Cocoa Limited. All three companies were registered in 2016.

via Facebook

There is a Chinese Timber company “ACHIM ECO FORESTRY COMPANY” who has destroyed Turubu and has shifted their operations to Kauk in West Coast Dagua in East Sepik. They have destroyed and stolen a great deal of timber without paying the landowners and are now looking at grabbing our land by conning some of my relatives and KAIKAI man from SMAIN and BUT villages.

ACHIM have paid them lousy thousands of Kina to go in and harvest the timber. We have taken out a preventative order to stop them and we will be in court with them next week.

Governor Allan BirdKevin Isifu & Richard Maru, we need your help in removing this illegal company, grabbing land from ignorant land owners and making false promises to them.