15 Sep 2009

New Solomons land commissioner appalled at corruption

3:27 pm on 15 September 2009

The Solomon Islands new Lands Commissioner says the widespread nature of the corruption within the ministry responsible for administering crown land is shocking.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey, Ruth Liloqula, recently became the first female Commissioner of Lands.

She says corruption has permeated to the highest level, with a former Lands Commissioner transferring the title on a plot of land in the National Parliament car park to himself, and then being paid 12,000 US dollars to surrender the title.

Ruth Liloqula says officers in the ministry have been selling land for thousands of dollars, but if she sacked all those involved she'd have almost no officials left.

"It is shocking but you can't cry over spilled milk, we need to do something about the future. So that's what we are working on, we are trying to mentor and work with the staff that are here to give them the opportunity to do what is right and turn things around."

Ruth Liloqula says an internal investigation could result in criminal charges being laid against some of those responsible, and her office is working to reform its systems to clean up malpractices.