PM confirms cancellation of all licenses to thwart illegal land grabbing
By BARNEY ORERE, POST COURIER
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed that the National Executive Council has cancelled all licences and SABLs are illegal.
He said this in response to a community advocacy group Act Now which had been vocal about the land grab issue in relation to SABL – special agriculture and business leases.
"I have made a decision that I can make that is legally required of me and NEC, that is that we have cancelled all the licences, all the SABL licenses are illegal in this country." PM O’Neill said.
"I think that its best that you ask the agencies like Lands and Physical Planning Department why are these licenses are still operating, that’s a very good question, you should ask them why they are still operating, somebody is not doing their job."
"SABL licences are illegal in this country, but some people have disregard for the decisions that we are making and this is where Police and Lands and Physical Planning Department and agencies of our government should work together and stop these people"
"Most of them are not Papua New Guineans so why are they still in the country, they should be put on a plane and sent back home," Mr O’Neill said.
Act Now says a new report, published by the US-based Oakland Institute, was a bold attempt to redress that balance, highlighting the suffering caused to ordinary women, children and whole communities by the failure to cancel the unlawful leases or control the logging and palm oil industries; people, like Ana Sipona, from Pomio who has seen her land stolen.
"The situation has gone from bad to worse. The land has been taken away from us. The land - it’s our life. For generations we have lived on this land and our ancestors survived on the land. Their livelihoods were based on the land and the forest. Now, it’s like the rug has been pulled from under our feet. There are lots of problems that we face because of the alienation of the land from the people. Things have changed drastically for the worse," the community advocacy organization said.
Since 2013, the Prime Minister had repeatedly promised the unlawful SABL would be cancelled and in June 2014 the NEC endorsed the recommendation of a commission of inquiry that the leases be revoked.
Minister Benny Allen has not responded to calls and text messages seeking his comments on the SABL issue.