PNG PM called on to act over SABLs

8:06 pm on 15 March 2017

A Papua New Guinea civil society group says the Peter O'Neill Government must take responsibility and act on its own decision to cancel SABL leases.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill gives a talk at the Lowy Institute in Sydney on May 14, 2015

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: AFP / Peter Parks

After an expensive inquiry the National Executive Council, or Cabinet, ruled nearly three years ago that the Special Agricultural Business Leases were illegal but Mr O'Neill has frequently blamed the Lands Department officials for failing to carry out the wishes of his government.

However the manager of Act Now, Effrey Dademo, said the government had to take responsibility.

She said the buck stopped with Mr O'Neill.

"What are you supposed to do as the head of the country? I mean we can say it is the responsibility of the Lands Department but who is holding the Lands Department accountable for inaction?"

The government meanwhile is pushing ahead with plans to convert Special Agriculture Business Leases to registered land using Incorporated Land Groups.

It was confirmed earlier this month by Lands Minister Benny Allan in response to a petition signed by ten-thousand people calling for action on the SABLs.

The majority of the SABLS were found by a commission of inquiry three years ago to have been fraudulently obtained, constituting a massive land grab.

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