19 Sep 2013

PNG PM tables reports into controversial land lease system

1:21 pm on 19 September 2013

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has tabled in parliament two reports from a Commission of Inquiry into Special Agricultural Business Leases.

The government ordered the inquiry in 2011 to investigate the SABL system which civil society groups claim has been used for a huge 'land grab', often for unsustainable logging projects.

Peter O'Neill tabled reports from two of the three Commissioners, but has slammed the overall performance of the Commission as being substandard and costly.

Mr O'Neill told parliament the lease system was marred by shocking corruption and mismanagement.

Of the overall 75 leases in the SABL system, 42 were examined.

The reports found that only four secured consent of local landowners and had viable agricultural projects.

The government has signalled the creation of a taskforce to develop a new legislative framework to free up customary land for development.

It will also consult nationally to draft a new SABL system.