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PNG Lands Minister urged to address SABL issue properly

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) has released its latest blog article titled; Lands Minister must address SABL issue properly. The article highlights concern around issues raised by customary landowners over the lack of action on recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL).

PNG NRI Professorial Research Fellow and former Director Dr. Thomas Webster stated in the article that the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Hon. Benny Allan is deliberately, or otherwise, misleading in his statements on the status of implementing the COI recommendations and decision of the NEC to cancel SABL leases.

“The Commission of Inquiry (COI) was established prior to the last national election and the current Minister for Lands and Physical Planning has been responsible for the Lands Portfolio for the entire life of this Parliament to have the anomalies of the SABL corrected once and for all,” Dr. Webster said.

The article also highlights problems with SABLs, Recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry Report, NEC decisions directing SABL leases to be squashed, the Land Groups Incorporation Amendment Act 1974, the amended 2009 Land Registration Amendment Act of 1982 and the Voluntary Customary Land Registration System. The proposed Office of the Customary Land Development, the Need for Access to Land for Development and the Long Held Challenges for Accessing Customary Land for Development are also discussed.

“The Minister for Lands is reported as saying that his Department is now looking at transferring SABL’s to Voluntary Customary Land Registration (VCLR) and he will make a report to Parliament at its next sitting of Parliament. I along with many concerned landowners affected will be watching and listening with interest how he has addressed the SABL issues. More importantly, I will be listening to see how he proposes to increase the supply of land for development purposes through a sustainable mechanism under the VCLR system and not through non sustainable outright purchases by Government as seen in the last couple of years,” Dr. Webster stated.
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