The government of plotting to grab more customary land and hand it to multi-national companies and the commercial banks.
While it has been forced to stop issuing illegal SABL leases, the government now intends to use the National Land Summit as a cover to find new ways to ‘facilitate access to customary land’.
It is duplicitous for the Lands Mining to try and allay fears by saying that ‘customary land will never be taken away’ as a 99-year lease can mean multiple generations of people lose all rights to use their land.
To try and to justify their land grab the government and industry are using the same false idea that customary land is unutilized and a barrier to development, that they have been peddling for decades.
The truth is customary land is our nations most valuable asset. It already supports 3 million rural farmers and an informal economy and subsistence lifestyles that are worth up to K40 billion a year.
Customary land also provides communities with fresh, healthy foods that help protect them from lifestyle diseases associated with imported and highly-processed foods. This helps reduce the burden on over-stretched health services.
Rather than new schemes to take control of customary land away from rural people, the government should be focused on mobilising people so they can benefit even more from their land.
Rural famers desperately need government support to help them develop their existing agriculture and horticulture businesses and do more downstream processing.
Supporting the people to utilise their own land is the development path laid out in Papua New Guinea’s Constitution and is the only way to ensure the 2050 Vision of a ‘smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy society’.
The government should be defending customary land ownership and helping local businesses to boost production and to access national and international markets. This means providing extension services to nurture new enterprises and help increase productivity, providing better transport and storage infrastructure, supporting processing and value adding and protecting local producers from unfair foreign competition.
The government has also still not reversed all the SABL leases unlawfully issued in its last land grab and has not compensated customary landowners for their losses.
The Department of Lands should be focused on correcting its past mistakes rather than coming up with new ways to steal customary land.
ACT NOW! is calling on the government to cancel its misconceived Land Summit and instead concentrate on doing what is best for customary landowners.
The government should be promoting Papua New Guinea as a proud and independent nation not trying to find new ways to allow foreigners to come and steal our land.
Download the full ACT NOW! Position Statement: OUR LAND. THEIR PROFITS. OUR ENSLAVEMENT