The full NEC decision on the SABL land grab

Papua New Guinea Government

National Executive Council

Decision No: 184/2014


On 12th June 2014, Council:

1.  noted the contents of Policy Submission No. 157/2014;

2.  approved to repeal the provisions of the Structural Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) in the Lands Act to prevent anymore SABL dealings since there are other facilities in the Lands Act that allow for voluntary land tenure conversion to leasehold if customary land owners desire to do so;

3.  directed that the Department of Lands and Physical Planning continue to observe the previous NEC Decision not to process or issue any more SABL;

4.  approved to revoke all SABLs recommended by the two Commission of Inquiry (COI) Reports to be revoked;

5.  directed that subject to formal legal advice from the Department of Justice and Attorney General, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and the Department of Environment and Conservation review existing SABLs and where legally sound to apply appropriate administrative procedures, including the use of show cause notices to holders of SABLs;

6.  directed that after proper scrutiny and legal advice the Ministerial Committee may screen all SABLs not assessed by the two COI reports and to make known its findings and recommendations on a case by case basis;

7.  directed that where appropriate in the interests of all the parties involved, certain SABLs can be made compliant by following the proper guidelines to be established by the Ministerial Committee upon sound legal advice and taking into consideration the recommendations of the respective COI Reports;

8.  directed the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) to continue to observe the NEC Decision to not issue any more Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to SABLs;

9.  directed that the PNGFA be made a self-financing entity to be financed by a specific management levy based on export of all log and timber exports so that it can more properly implement its role as the regulator and facilitator of development of the forest industry in PNG;

10.  directed that in place of the National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP), the Government establish an Agriculture Investment Corporation (AIC) as the investment vehicle for large scale agriculture developments which can also joint venture with resource owners to develop their timber resources in order to help landowners raise their equity in investment in large scale agriculture and re-afforestation projects on their lands;

11.  directed that the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) take steps including legislative amendments to transfer administration of the Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) from the Department of Lands and Physical Planning to the IPA;

12.  approved to establish a special SABL taskforce staffed by persons not previously involved in the issuance and administration of the SABL to be based with the Forest Ministry which shall report to the Ministerial Committee on SABL with an initial budget of K3 Million to:

  • (a) address matters raised by the findings of the COI,
  • (b) implement the recommendations of the COI,
  • (c) investigate all the other SABLs not investigated by the COI; and 
  • (d) follow up the Decisions of the Ministerial Committee and the NEC pertaining to SABLs.

13.  directed that the Department of Finance immediately release K3 million to PNGFA to finance the operations of the Special SABL Taskforce; and 

14.  approved that the Ministerial Committee shall determine the membership and composition of the Special SABL Taskforce and its terms of reference and of engagement.

I Certify the above to be a correct record of the Decisions reached by the National Executive Council

Peter O'Neill, CMG Chairman

Ilagi Veali, MPS Secretary, NEC

Date: 18th June 2014