Any action by the government to address the SABL land grab and illegal logging is very welcome – but landowners have been waiting two years, not six months as the Chief Secretary claims.
By Jack Lapauve Jr – EM TV, Port Moresby
The inquiry into the Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) has been taken over by an Independent Task Force Team. Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, told EM TV today, the Task Force will oversee and implement recommendations of the previous Commission. The Chief Secretary to Government said after six months, no progress was made in implementing the recommendations of the reports submitted. Sir Manasupe said this has annoyed the government and pressured authorities. Manasupe said the Task Force team will report to him and speed-up this process. The new task force team is made up of Dr Lawrence Sause, Daniel Katakbumb and Kutt Paonga. Sir Manasupe said their work is to deal with specific recommendations and implement accordingly on case by case basis. Out of 75 SABL leases, only 45 were reported back as result of one of the commissioner’s not submitting his report. The SABL inquiry came about, when it was uncovered that over 5.2 million hectares of customary land were converted to agricultural business leases without the knowledge of customary landowners. A lot of these leases were being used as a cover for illegal logging operations, and were not genuine agriculture businesses.
Source : farmlandgrab