Next step for PNG SABLs is conversion to customary leases

10:24 am on 16 November 2016

Papua New Guinea's National Research Institute has welcomed an announcement that all Special Agriculture Business Leases are being cancelled.

Food production in Papua New Guinea

Food production in Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

A 2012 Commission of Inquiry found the majority of the leases, known as SABLs, were fraudulently obtained.

Over 10 percent of PNG's total land mass, is estimated to have been affected by the illegal leases.

The Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced last week that all SABLs were being cancelled because the government did not want landowners alienated from their land.

A researcher with the institute, Eugene Ezebilo, said the onus is on giving customary landowners control of new lease arrangements and how their land is used.

"After this cancellation the next thing now is to develop a guideline that will be used for dismantling the SABLs so that the SABL can be converted to a customary lease," he said.

Mr Ezebilo said the Department of Lands is the government agency tasked with converting the leases.

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