16 Aug 2010

Need for more clarity over Vanuatu law changes affecting land

1:50 pm on 16 August 2010

A Vanuatu based think tank says more clarity is needed over a piece of legislation which paves the way for the licensing of company trusts to administer customary land.

The Companies and Trust Services Providers Act has been passed by Parliament and is on the verge of being signed into law, but has already upset many local chiefs and landowners.

The Pacific Institute of Public Policy Executive Director, Derek Brien, says there is a fear that this will make it easier for foreigners to gain access to customary land.

"Whenever anything in particular is coming out of government in terms of legislation that relates to or even refers to customary land it sparks quite an interest from the community at large, but certainly from the council of chiefs and individual chiefs. The major issue with this piece of legislation is a lack of clarity."

Derek Brien says customary land ownership sparked the independence movement in Vanuatu and it remains a key issue in the country.