By Mickey Kavera – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Special Agriculture Business Lease or SABL is a concern for many Papua New Guineans.
It allowed for land to be freed up for agricultural purposes, however, many of the leases were abused by foreign companies.
Those involved used it as a disguise to log vast areas of forest. Community advocacy group, ACT NOW, says more than 5 million hectares of land was unlawfully taken from customary landowners through this scam.
Chief Secretary, Manasupe Zurenuoc, recently announced the completion of the SABL Inquiry Report.
But ACT NOW says it is just more excuse and delays. Since 2013, the government has promised to take action but has failed. ACT NOW wants the government to set a clear timetable explaining when all the leases will be revoked.
Northern Governor, Gary Juffa, has also been vocal on this issue. He urged the government to take immediate action to revoke all unlawful SABLs and return land to the people.
Out of the 75 SABL reports throughout the country, only 42 SABL reports were provided, by two members of the commission, Nicholas Mirou and John Numapo.
Their findings recommend that 30 were to be cancelled, 11 suspended and that only one SABL was in order.
Juffa raised concern that failure by the government only allows for more illegal logging of our forests resources.
“Policies governing the use of land must also be developed to guard against future instances of similar scams,” he added.
Chief Secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc, hopes that some land will be returned to landowners in the not too distant future.