Foreign owned logging companies could be defrauding the country of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues says community advocacy group ACT NOW! It is calling for a moratorium on any further logging licences until there is a full and transparent investigation and the cancellation of all illegal SABL leases.
The government has tried to bury and forget the SABL land grab scandal in which more than 5 million hectares of land has been stolen from rural communities.
It is using a well tested formula that we see employed almost every time a new corruption scandal is exposed:
First a long-drawn out official inquiry that is delayed by funding and other logistical problems.
Then a further delay before the inquiry findings are tabled in Parliament.
It is six years since Prime Minister Peter O’Neill promised the country an Independent Commission Against Corruption. Yet that vision is no closer to being realised today than it was in 2012, says Community Advocacy group, ACT NOW!
“Peter O’Neill has totally failed to live up to his promises in both the 2012 and 2017 Alotau Accords that the government would establish an ICAC”, says Campaign Coordinator Eddie Tanago.
Community advocacy group ACT NOW! is warning APEC delegates attending the current Food Security Week in Port Moresby that the Papua New Guinea government has a very poor record on protecting rural famers and supporting local agriculture.
“In PNG we have more than 1 million local farmers who feed more than 7 million people every day, yet the government continues to allow foreign corporations to steal their land for logging and oil palm plantations” says campaign coordinator Eddie Tanago.
Communities affected by three Special Agricuture Business Leases in the West Pomio District of East New Britain Province have assessed the economic damage caused by logging and oil palm planting at more than K2.4 billion.
The damages assessment has been compiled by seventeen communities that have lost 42,400 hectares of customary land under the Pomata, Ralopal and Nakiura leases.
ACT NOW! is today launching a new multi-media campaign titled 'Celebrating and Defending Customary Land'.
Well customary land is the most valuable asset available to most Papua New Guineans but its role and importance is often misunderstood or misrepresented, particularly by outsiders.
Too few people realise customary land supports an economy estimated to be worth K40 billion a year, provides jobs and incomes for 3 million farmers and provides housing and a sense of community for more than 7 million people.
Today is the first anniversary of the presentation of a 10,000 signature petition to the Department of Lands demanding the cancellation of the SABL leases. 2018, also marks five-years since the SABL Commission of Inquiry exposed the full extent of the illegal land grab, which affects more than 10% of the whole country.
But despite repeated promises from the O’Neill government to cancel the leases, stretching back to 2013, almost nothing has been done.
APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko’s plan to allow commercial banks to take customary land as security for loans is another huge land grab, says community advocacy group, ACT NOW!
“The government has yet to cancel all the illegal SABL leases, used to defraud communities of more than 5 million hectares of land. Instead, they are pushing ahead with plans for another land grab”, says Campaign Coordinator, Eddie Tanago.
Community advocacy group ACT NOW! says it fears the government is deliberately delaying plans to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“This Friday, the 10th of November, will see the Prime Minister complete 100 days in office since his re-election, but he has failed to bring the ICAC legislation before Parliament,” says Campaign Coordinator, Eddie Tanago.
Rural Farmers Need Govt Support - Not Foreign Owned Agri-businesses
Community advocacy group ACT NOW! wants Papua New Guinea's first ever National Agriculture Summit to be focused on helping Papua New Guinea’s 3 million rural farmers and not on assisting large foreign owned industries to grab more customary land.