19 Jun 2014

PNG cancels illegal land leases

8:10 pm on 19 June 2014

The Papua New Guinea Government has reportedly officially cancelled all Special Agricultural Business Leases obtained fraudulently.

The cancellation of SABLs and repealing of the Land Act have been approved by Cabinet this week to implement the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the SABLs.

Under the SABL system, over five million hectares of PNG land was taken up by foreign parties mainly for logging, rather than agricultural projects.

The inquiry found the vast majority of the 77 leases were fraudulently obtained without landowner consultation.

NGOs including Act Now and the Bismarck Ramu Group had previously complained that the Government had sat for too long on the inquiry's recommendations that the leases be cancelled.

Announcing the cancellations, the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said the Government is taking these steps to reclaim PNG's customary land illegally lost to foreigners with the help of corrupt public servants and leaders.