Government dealing with SABL

28/11/2013 13:09

PRESS RELEASE: Government dealing with SABL issue        

AS a result of widespread illegal land grab in the country, then Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal instituted a Commission of Inquiry in July 2011 into the granting of Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABLs) in the country.

This inquiry was extended by Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and on June 24, 2013 a final report was presented to the Government by the Commission.

The Prime Minister tabled this report in Parliament in August. The Commission was asked to examine 75 leases. They only examined 42.
Of the 42, only four leases appeared to be proper and commercially viable, with bona fide landowner consent. The rest of the leases were illegal or seriously compromised.
Despite these flaws, the Commission had recommended in the final report that the leases (SABLs) be continued, and made general recommendations to improve the integrity of the process.
In his statement to Parliament, the Prime Minister announced that the freeze on the SABLs would continue.
He also directed the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning to appoint a Task Force to identify a new legislative framework to;
• provide for the conversion of customary land into lease hold land for the benefit of landowners;
• protect the interests of landowners: and
• ensure sustainable land use. 
This process will take some time, but it shows a decisive action by the O’Neill/Dion Government to protect the interests of landowners and the environment.
For too long, landowners have been taken advantage of and had their land stolen, in some instances with the help of people in positions of power and responsibility.
The Task Force will be consulting widely so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. The use of customary land is a sensitive issue and this government is committed to getting it right.
The Post-Courier front page article today titled “Land Grab Shock” failed to make reference to this decisive action by the government to deal with and end illegal land grab in the country.
It is untrue and entirely misleading to suggest, as your article did, that the O’Neill/Dion Government has failed to act on the inquiry.
Whether it is customer land, or prime land in the city, this Government is determined and will do all it can to take back land that is illegally taken away from Papua New Guineans and punish those responsible.