by Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby
The Mount Hagen Chamber of Commerce has shown its support towards the Government’s National Land Development Program in Western Highlands.
Chamber Vice President, Gred Linhardt, said business houses will get behind the program because they want to see their businesses expand.
However, Linhardt stressed that the government bodies concerned must ensure business houses are given legal land titles, to avoid illegal landowners claiming land payments.
“We need to be guaranteed land security,” Linhardt said.
In a meeting between NLDP members and the Chamber, both parties presented their views on the program and what can be gained from it.
National Research Institute Director and someone who is also spearheading the Program, Dr. Charles Yala, emphasised the attraction business houses have in terms of rural to urban migration.
Dr. Yala said without the business sector, there would not be any township, therefore businesses houses or investors are significant players in the Land Development Program particularly for town expansion.
In response, Chamber President Linhardt challenged the program and said businesses rely on certainties and need security to be guaranteed before they can confidently invest on customary land.
Linhardt’s point highlights the similar challenges business houses face in most parts of the country, where businesses are built on customary land.
NLDP is a government project formulated to see proper planning of townships and cities. It also allows customary landowners to register and lease their land back to the state or other investors.
However, law and order issues and proper awareness to locals, are two areas that the NLDP team will encounter in implementing the program, not only in Western Highlands but the rest of the country.