14 Sep 2012

Vanuatu Cabinet Ministers admonished for not following law on land sales

5:14 pm on 14 September 2012

An indigenous land rights worker in Vanuatu says if government ministers want to sell state or customary land they must follow the correct procedures.

Joel Simo, who staffs the land desk at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, says public land should not be sold to individuals.

His comment comes as the Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau, has been accused of allowing the sale of public land at discount rates to Lands Department staff.

Mr Simo says land is of the utmost importance to ni-Vanuatu, as it is the source of their livelihood and the key to their identity.

He says corrupt land deals are alienating traditional land rights holders.

"If the government continues to sell off land, then it is promoting this idea of indigenous people eventually becoming landless and having to rely on handouts from aid donors from governments from other places."

Joel Simo