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Major progress and inroads have been made into rectifying the controversial Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABLs)declared unlawful by the Papua New Guinea Government.
Lands Minister Benny Allan clarified this Tuesday saying his department has been working full time accommodating and facilitating the National Executive Council decision nullifying SABL titles, the submission for which he was the author.
Allan said his department had to tread carefully in implementing the NEC decision due to the complexity of the issue and it was not an overnight solution as literally demanded by uninformed NGOs.
Allan said advocacy groups trying to dictate to the Government what to do were putting the cart before the horse.
“We are committed to this task and have made positive progress in implementing the Prime Minister and the NEC’s decision and instructions to cancel all SABLs in the country,” Allan said.
“And we have not merely cancelled SABLs, we have gone further to establishing a process to converting these SABLs into customary land leases through the Incorporated Landowner Group and Voluntary Customary Lands Registration concepts and there have been a number of success stories.
“We have not been inactive as some commentators and so-called advocacy groups may want to believe and preach.
“Nothing can be further from the truth, the Ministry and the department have, since the announcement by the Prime Minister on the blanket cancellation of all SABLs worked hard in pursuing and advancing the matter forward.” Allan said since the NEC Decision 287/2014 on the Commission of Inquiry recommendation, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning has to date not issued any new SABLs.
He said under the same approval all SABLs have been surrendered to the department for processing and conversion to integrated land groups and voluntary customary lands registration.
“This is not a straight-forward case as one may like to think. As a responsible Government we have to be mindful of the technical and legal challenges and considerations associated with the implementation of this decision,” he said.
Allan said the Department has already prepared a detailed statement on SABLs which he would present at the next sitting of Parliament.
“In the meantime I urge those detractors and opponents not to be hasty in their accusations without knowing and appreciating the work we’ve put in and the realities with which we are dealing with on this issue,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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