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Posts Tagged ‘Department of Land’

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1260 days and still waiting…

December 5, 2016 1 comment

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The promises from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill keep coming, but we are still waiting to see ANY ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab; still waiting to see ANY ACTION to return the land to customary landholders; and, still waiting to see ANY ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

It is now 1,260 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

Since June 2013, almost three-and-a-half years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013, O’Neill said in Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

And just a few weeks ago, on November 4, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,260 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests 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.

SABL_billboard

KLK pulls out of oil palm in Collingwood Bay but logging fears remain

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

klk

Source: Gabriel Thoumi – ValueWalk

In December 2012, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK) bought 51% of the equity in Collingwood Plantations Pte (CWB) via KLK Overseas Investments Limited for $8.7 million. At the time, according to AmInvesment Bank, the assumed production costs from clearing to palm oil production for the new plantation were $6,000 per ha.

In KLK’s 2013 Annual Report, the company estimated that it would develop 30,000 ha of oil palm in Collingwood Bay. The area is known for its pristine primary forests and coral reefs, containing high levels of biodiversity. Prior to KLK’s entry, the Collingwood Bay Indigenous communities had secured a court order that prohibited all natural resource related national government agencies from entering the bay without the landowners’ prior consent.

Collingwood Bay’s Indigenous communities successfully contested KLK’s plantation plans in the Papua New Guinea courts, which declared KLK’s two main leases null and void in May 2014.

In October, KLK confirmed that it has withdrawn all interest in the development of two portions of customary land (Portion 113C and 143C) in Collingwood Bay. A smaller third State Land portion – Lot 5 which is 5,992 ha – is still being reviewed, according to KLK. Without access to the other lots, however, it is uncertain if the size of Lot 5 is economically feasible to develop on its own because it also mostly covered with primary and High Carbon Stock forest.

In a statement KLK publicly committed to sell off by December 2016 its land clearing equipment stored in Wanigela, Collingwood Bay and confirmed that KLK and / or its agents will exclude the cultivation of palm oil as a development option on Lot 5.  Concerns remain, however, if the land-clearing machinery is sold to KLK Overseas Investments Limited joint venture partner ANG Agro Forest Management to facilitate logging and other activities in the primary forests of Lot 5.

KLK has not clarified its overall plans for its overall $8.7 million investment Collingwood Plantations Pte, its total land bank of 44,342 ha in the region or its 37,000 ha plantation deal in Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. According to agronomists and a 1992 government soil survey, the Sepik Province plantation deal is on land that has been found to be unsuitable for tree crops.

O’Neill’s illegal logging – 1253 days and counting…

November 28, 2016 1 comment

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Peter O'Neill: Theft of forest resources: Guilty

sabl cartoon

Department of Lands still dealing in illegal SABL leases

November 22, 2016 Leave a comment

sabl-17c-ng-10102016

The Department of Lands is still ignoring the SABL Commission of Inquiry findings and dealing with SABL leases found to have been illegally issued and recommended to be revoked, as if there is nothing wrong with them.

The Department has recently issued an Official Copy of the State Lease over Portion 17C in Oro Province despite clear findings by the SABL Commission of Inquiry, published in 2013, the lease was “improper and unlawful” and should be “revoked forthwith”.

The CoI found some landowner signatures were fraudulently acquired and concluded:

All in all, the COI found that the issuing of the SABL over Portion 17C to MVMCL [Musa Valley Management Company Limited] which was then sub-leased to MCL [Musa Century Limited] was improper and unlawful”.

“We also found that consent were not obtained from the majority of the landowners to lease their land for the SABL on Portion 17C. In addition, the SABL is not founded upon a proper Lease-Lease back instrument in accordance with Sections 11 and 102 of the Land Act and therefore, is defective and void”.

“We found therefore, that the SABL over Portion 17C was improperly and unlawfully granted to MVMCL and therefore, any subsequent sub-lease arrangements would be also be deemed to be void and of no effect”. 

“We recommend that the SABL over Portion 17C in the Musa-Pongani area issued to MVMCL and sub-leased to MCL is to be REVOKED forthwith.” 

(CoI report [pdf], pages 218 and 219)

The CoI also found:

“The developer MCL is not interested in developing the oil palm and cattle project but rather using them as an excuse/guise to obtain a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) and embark on a full scale logging operations instead” (page 214)

Despite these clear findings, the Department of Lands is carrying on as if nothing is wrong wth the leases – action that suggests the corruption and mismanagement in the Department is still flourishing.

The findings of the Commission of Inquiry

Not all the landowners consented to the SABL over Portion 17C and there were substantiated allegations of fraudulent conduct by government officials and company representatives.

The land investigation process was not properly carried out and the Land Investigation Report was incomplete and unreliable. The Provincial Lands Officer was ‘forced’ to sign a LIR prepared by someone not employed by the Department and with no input from the Provincial Lands Office.

There was no proper awareness carried out to inform people about the proposed agriculture projects.

The Agriculture Development Plan was ‘sketchy and vague’ leading the CoI to conclude:

“the developer MCL is not interested in developing the oil palm and cattle project but rather using them as an excuse/guise to obtain a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) and embark on a full scale logging operation instead” 

An estimated 90% of the land (Portion 17C) is thickly forested (with high quality merchantable logs)” (page 214)

We found that very little awareness was carried out on the SABL over Portion 17C in the Musa-Pongani area. The majority of the affected landowners were not consulted and have not participated in any meetings or hearings held to gauge landowner’s views and agreements on the SABL as part of the land investigation process. Majority of the landowners have not given their ‘informed consent’ to lease their land for SABL and have not signed any documents to indicate their agreement and consent. Some signatures were fraudulently obtained. The informed consent of the customary landowners to lease their customary land is the most fundamental primary requirement to issuing an SABL and without such consent been properly obtained no SABL can be issued. We discovered that majority of the landowners in the villages in and around the Musa-Pongani area were not involved and did not participate in the initial application stages to obtain an SABL over Portion 17C”. (p217)

The history of the SABL over Portion 17C

The SABL over Portion 17C in fact started life as a smaller (211,600ha) lease over Portion 16C.

In December 2008 the land was acquired by the State through a 99 year lease and leased to Musida Holdings (a company owned and controlled by some of the landholders).

These leases were challenged in a court case – Musa Valley Management Company and Musa Century Limited v Lands Secretary, Lands Minister and Musida Holdings (2010).

The National Court found the leases were ‘seriously flawed’ and declared them null and void for a failure to follow proper process under the Land Act and significant errors of law, in particular securing the consent of customary landowners to both leases.

MVMC is owned and controlled by a different group of landowners promoting their own preferred developer of an agro-forestry project. The Commission of Inquiry later concluded MHL was formed by landowners living in the Musa-Pongani area and MVMC was formed by landowners living in POM.

A Notice of Revocation of the SABL over Portion 16C was issued by the Department of Lands in February 2010 and published in the National Gazette.

But the fraud and illegality did not stop there. A new lease was then granted in Sept 2010 to MVMC over the larger (320,060ha) Portion 17C (which incorporates 16C). The SABL was supposedly issued for the purpose of oil palm and cattle projects.

MVMC then sub-leased the land to MCL, a company 99.9% owned by a Malaysian, Kem San GO.

These leases were found by the Commission of Inquiry to have been illegally issued and were recommended to be revoked – but the Department of Lands is ignoring those findings.

O’Neill’s illegal logging: 1246 days and counting…

November 21, 2016 Leave a comment

count

The promises from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill keep coming, but we are still waiting to see ANY ACTION to reverse the huge SABL land grab, still waiting to see ANY ACTION to return the land to customary landholders, and still waiting to see ANY ACTION to stop the illegal logging in SABL areas.

It is now 1,246 days since the reports of the SABL Commission Inquiry which detail the widespread fraud and mismanagement that has allowed foreign logging companies to gain illegal access to over 5 million hectares of land.

Since June 2013, almost three-and-a-half years ago, O’Neill has REPEATEDLY promised us the leases will be canceled and illegal logging stopped.

In September 2013, O’Neill said in Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

In 2015 the Chief Secretary stated:

“It is widely known that vast amounts of pristine forest have been logged to enrich a corrupt few people, while landowners have unknowingly lost their most valuable asset – their land”.

And just two weeks ago, on November 4, O’Neill told Parliament and the Nation:

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.

“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.

“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.

“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”

But, despite all the promises, no action has been taken to cancel the leases, landowners are receiving no support from the government in their battles against the land grabbing and WE ARE STILL WAITING for the logging to be stopped.

For 1,246 days O’Neill has failed to ensure the SABL leases are revoked and has been complicit in the illegal logging of our forests 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.

sabl cartoon

Forest Minister, Tomuriesa, a complete hypocrite over the SABL land grab and illegal logging

November 15, 2016 Leave a comment
The Forest Minister sitting comfortably on his trip home from Paris

Forest Minister, Douglas Tomuriesa, is so full of bullshit…

The audacity, bare faced cheek and hypocrisy from Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa is just jaw dropping!

This is a man who for three years has vehemently denied any suggestion of illegal logging in PNG, and has wholly heartedly endorsed the destructive logging operations in SABL lease areas that have seen timber worth more then US$400 million stolen from customary landowners and exported to China.

That logging in SABL areas is still continuing today, with Tomuriesa’s seal of approval, yet he tells Parliament:

  • ‘The government decision to cancel the leases is commendable’
  • ‘The leases should ‘never have happened’
  • ‘Due diligence must be done before any approval can be granted’
  • ‘Our people’s rights and our children’s future must be protected’

Most staggering of all, Tomuriesa says:

“The land belongs to our people. It must remain with our people, the forest belongs to our people and it must not be taken away from them”

So Minister, please tell us why you have allowed over 4 million cubic meters of logs to be stolen from SABL lease areas without the informed consent of local people but under the guise of approvals granted by you and your Department. 

Why are you STILL allowing the logging to continue when you say our people’s rights must be protected!

By HELEN TARAWA, The National (owned by Rimbunan Hijau), November 11, 2016
The Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) was designed to fail and the Government’s decision to cancel it is commendable, Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa said.
Tomuriesa told Parliament last week that SABL was designed for disaster and the Government had taken a corrective measure, with land going back to the people.
“The investors can now go back and renegotiate proper deals with our people,” he said.
“We should not allow this to happen again, such practice that is approved by this Parliament or by bureaucrats should never have happened.
“I want to commend the prime minister and his Cabinet for looking at the Commission of Inquiry report and eventually cancelling the SABL.
“Due diligence must be done before any approval can be granted; as leaders we allowed this to happen.
“We have to look at any similar controversial acts like the SABL that have been approved in the past and we must stop them now.
“Our people’s rights and our children’s future must be protected by this parliament and not allow foreigners come and dictate to us.
“The land belongs to our people. It must remain with our people, the forest belongs to our people and it must not be taken away from them.
“Our people were given rubbish, today they have the power in their hands to sit back and negotiate.
“I would like to acknowledge all parliament members for your support in making sure that we fix this issue once and for all.
“This SABL must not happen again.
“It there are other initiatives like this, we must stop. We must not sell the birthrights of our people to foreigners.”

O’Neill again promises to end SABL land grab

November 8, 2016 2 comments

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The Prime Minister has again announced the government is cancelling controversial SABL leases and returning the land to its customary owners.

“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today (last Friday) I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled” – see story below.

The only problem is we have heard this all before, yet no action has ever been taken.

In September 2013 O’Neill said in Parliament:

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”

In June 2014, announcing an NEC decision supposedly cancelling the leases, O’Neill said

“We are taking these steps to reclaim our customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders”

“As a responsible government we want to ensure that all citizens have access to the lands of their ancestors. We will not allow our land to be lost to unscrupulous people out to con our people” 

Yet it is now 1,233 days since the Commission of Inquiry reports that detailed the fraud, mismanagement and incompetence behind the huge SABL land grab and illegal logging.

For more than three years, we have been waiting for ACTION from the Prime Minister, rather than EMPTY WORDS.

Will this time prove to be any different?

And what about the 35 leases the Commission of Inquiry conveniently failed to report on – including the huge Rimbunan Hijau logging operations in Pomio district and the destruction of New Hanover?

All SABLs cancelled: O’Neill
The National aka The Loggers Times 
THE Government has cancelled all Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL) due to irregularities in various land and forestry laws that allowed the devastation of forests, parliament has been told.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill urged the landowners to revisit the leases signed with companies and if possible negotiate better benefits.
He was responding to a series of questions by Pomio MP Elias Kapavore in Parliament last Friday.
Kapavore asked if the commission of inquiry report into the SABL would be tabled in Parliament and if the Government could consider landowners of forestry impacted areas being given similar benefits as those in the extractive industry.
O’Neill said the Government was still waiting on the final report from the commission members.
“We have received reports on SABL from two commissioners out of the three that were tasked to carry out this inquiry,” he said.
“While waiting on last report, cabinet has taken some recommendations based on recommendations from the two commissioners who were able to lodge their report.
“I am pleased to say that all the SABL leases to be cancelled, instruction has now gone to the Lands Dept and as of today (last Friday) I can assure you that leases are now being cancelled and where there are projects now existing, we’ve encouraged the landowners to renegotiate many of those leases arrangements that they have made with the developers.
“These leases were given without much thought in the past. As a result, a lot of the landowners stood to lose all their years of generations of ownership over the land that they have had for many years.
“We do not want the rightful landowners lose their rights to land.
“That is why we have instructed the department of Lands and Forestry to cancel all the SABL.”
O’Neill highlighted Pomio district as a different case.
“Benefits to landowners, district and provinces, I want to say that I visited developments taking place in Pomio I support the MP (Kapavore) that those developments are taking place in a constructive and achieving the purpose. But the benefits to the landowners, district, LLG must be clearly defined and I’m encouraged that some of these developers are starting to talk with the landowners so they can have far greater benefits in these projects,” he said.