Special Purpose Agriculture & Business Leases in Papua New Guinea
Customary Land is being leased by the Lands Department by landowners. The department then leases it to businesses. In many cases it is alleged that the purpose for which the land is being used is not what was agreed to in the lease agreements with the landowners. In some cases it is alleged that landowners were not adequately consulted.
It is also alleged that large scale logging operations in the past (possibly ongoing) have been disguised as development projects using up nearly 5.2 million hectares of customary land.
A Commission of Inquiry (COI) was launched in June 2011 by the National Executive Council with commissioners John Numapo, Nicholas Mirau and Alois Jerewai in charge of the investigation and reporting its findings. The commissioners were given three months to produce a COI report. An extension was requested and granted to push the (parliamentary or public???) hearing dates to January 2012.
During the COI, no authorized suspensions of activity on the grants of new SABLs were made by Department of Lands and Physical Planning, regardless of the cabinet decision leading up to the COI.
Over one and a half years later, COI has produced only an interim report only and which is limited to providing a summary of the existing legal and administrative processes for issuing an SABL.
The unfinished report was tabled in parliament in late September 2013 with the PM expresses his disappointment that so many of the leases had not performed as they should.
Commission of Inquiry report incomplete and despite a moratorium being placed SABLs were still given out and operations of previous SABLs were not stopped during the inquiry and are still continuing.
Actions currently (October 2013) being taken by Government on this issue: None that we are aware of.
Action TIPNG wants to see
- The moratorium being implemented
- The COI report being finished
- The finished report tabled in parliament
- The report being made freely available
- Parliament taking actions on recommendations
- Those who have broken the law being prosecuted.
Useful Links: Google: The New Land Grab in Papua New Guinea