The phrase “landowner issues” is a misnomer and gives the wrong impression that Papua New Guineas traditional land owners are somehow a deterrent to progress. Next week I travel to the Lower Ramu region to see for myself the land of a rainforest tribe of New Guinea being taken from them without proper consent.
By Warren Dutton
Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal has established a Commission of Inquiry into the SABLs [special agricultural and business leases], which is a good and I believe well intentioned step.
However there are definitely forces within the system, and perhaps even within the process itself, that will be working hard to maintain the status of the bad SABLs, so the ECPNG [ecumenical council of PNG] really needs to present the strongest possible submission to the Commission of Inquiry.
The confusion over whether a Commission of Inquiry has been appointed to investigate Special Purpose Business and Agriculture leases, which we first reported on 3 days ago - Confusion over Land Grab Commission of Inquiry - has deepened with the publication of a further newspaper advert, this time in The National.
The advert below was published in the Post Courier newspaper today, Friday 24 June.
The Post Courier newspaper has used the occasion of World Environment Day and its Editorial Column to remind Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal of his commitment to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Special Agriculture and Business Leases. SABLs have been misused as a vehicle to take control of more than 5 million hectares of customary land away from local people. Mr Abal made his commitment to set up an inquiry on May 5 but has not yet signed the instruments to make the Commission a reality.
While local people in Papua New Guinea are beginning to suffer the impacts of a massive land grab orchestrated under the guise of agriculture projects, mining leases and Special Economic Zones, Vanuatu is suffering its own land grab as revealed in this video.
By Lorraine Jonathan, NRI Media Unit
Papua New Guinea's Land Act 1996, provides an avenue for customary landowners to participate in economic development on their customary land. The process by which this is done is lease their customary land to the state in return for the state granting a special agricultural and business lease (SABL) over the land. This lease lease‐back system was designed to enable customary landowners’ access to credit for agricultural ventures on their customary land.
This full page advert appeared in today's Post Courier newspaper in Papua New Guinea.