SABLs endure in PNG, says Juffa

8:30 pm on 30 September 2015

The governor of Papua New Guinea's Oro province, Gary Juffa, says illegal logging and deforestation continue under the Special Agriculture and Business Lease system.

The leases, commonly known as SABLs, have been consistently criticised as being a front for land grabbing.

An estimated five million hectares were estimated to have been acquired illegally from traditional owners under the system.

PNG's prime minister, Peter O'Neill, even described them as a total failure to landowners that involved a lot of illegalities.

Last year, Mr O'Neill indicated he had ordered the cancellation of the leases after a Commission of Inquiry found that most of the leases were obtained corruptly, often for the benefit of logging companies.

But to date, Governor Juffa says, Mr O'Neill's promises to act on findings of abuse within the SABL system have not been forthcoming, with illegal operations continuing while landowners remain voiceless.

He has told Pacnews that he doesn't understand why the prime minister is sleeping on this issue.

The Governor suggested that maybe the prime minister is compromised by personal interest, or is fearful that logging companies will take the state to court regarding the issue if he moves to stop SABLs.

Gary Juffa, PNG

Gary Juffa, PNG Photo: Supplied