2 Sep 2013

Provincial governor in PNG wants moratorium on land sales

7:15 pm on 2 September 2013

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Oro province has warned public departments are more atuned to facilitating corporate interests than protecting the rights of ordinary citizens.

Gary Juffa has reiterated his concern that a major land grab process is continuing in PNG despite a government order to halt the granting of new Special Agricultural Business Leases, or SABLs.

The government has come under criticism lately for not directing a completion of the commission of inquiry into SABLs which are alleged by civil society groups to be a front for easy access to PNG land for foreign interests particularly in the logging and oil palm sectors.

Mr Juffa says PNG is a haven for exploitation by companies intent on finding weaknesses in govenment agencies while marginalising local communities from their land.

The Governor's comments come after a court ruling that allows for a new SABL to commence, allowing a logging company to enter Oro Province to log on the pretext of agricultural development.

Mr Juffa suggests that a nationwide moratorium on land sales be implemented until the Lands Department is overhauled and has the capability to effectively manage land.