3 Aug 2007

Solomons MP claims land law change will root out corruption

6:18 pm on 3 August 2007

The Solomon Islands MP guiding a proposed change to the law around crown land sales says the move will root out corruption in the Ministry of Lands and Housing.

The Government Caucus is considering a change to legislation following growing public concern about unchecked development and skyrocketing land prices in Honiara.

It proposes putting all undeveloped crown land in the control of the Commissioner of Lands and Survey, who will then select what are described as "credible" local developers.

The Chairman of the Government Caucus, Nelson Ne'e, says too much land is in the hands of too few people in the country.

He says officials in the Ministry of Lands are failing to follow the rules, and that has to change.

"The officers responsible must look at every Solomon Islander, every businesspeople, every expatriate, as one person coming here to invest or coming here to build a house. Rather than see them in the yacht club or in another club and say, I want to give land to this particular person because she buys me a drink."

Nelson Ne'e says he's considering setting up a commission, rather than leaving ultimate decision-making power in the Commissioner of Lands.

The Minister of Lands and the Acting Lands Commissioner both declined to comment.