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Put land to good use to better lives

Land is one of the major factors of production of goods and services, says Papua New Guinea National Research Institute’s Acting Director Dr. Osborne Sanida.

“However, if the land is not accessible and put to good use, then landownership means little in terms of benefitting from the land by the landowners,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the Institute’s Discussion Paper No. 188 – Strategies to address challenges in customary land administration, governance, and dispute resolution in Papua New Guinea, Dr. Sanida said land is the source of livelihood and landowners should make use of their land to better their lives.

The paper, launched on 15 July 2021, was authored by Dr. Flora Kwapena, Managing Director of Property PNG Limited; Logea Nao, Research Fellow with Sustainable Land Development Research Program at PNG NRI; and former project officer, Jerry Birop.

Ms. Nao, during a presentation on behalf of her co-authors, said that in PNG, 3 percent of the land is formally owned, either by the State or privately owned. The rest (97%) remains under customary tenure or owned by traditional landowners across the country.

She said, unfortunately, the land under customary tenure does not have formal titles.

“And these restrict economic development as most developers are comfortable in dealing with formal titles,” Nao said.

“So, in order for any country (in this case, PNG) to move towards achieving sustainable economic development, we need those customary land to be released for development.”

She, however, said the challenge with accessing and promoting bankable customary land titles was associated with the administration of customary land, land governance, and land dispute resolution.

Ms. Nao said the study was focused on two main areas; to identify the challenges, and to find potential strategies to address customary land reform issues, especially access, administration, governance, and resolution of disputes of customary land.

Some of those potential strategies which need to be addressed were:
• to ensure that there is capacity-building initiatives or training provided to all the agencies and the individual involved
in the National Land Development Planning;
• to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability particularly within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning;
• to ensure the security of land records from loss, destruction, and fraud;
• promote and develop computerised workflow systems; this address concerns around accountability and transparency; and,
• to ensure that survey and legal data that is recorded in the field is safe and secure with a GIS spatial system so that records management and accessing records are more efficient.

The launch was attended by stakeholders including representatives from the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Department of Lands and Physical Planning, Magisterial Services, Bank South Pacific, and other financial institutions.

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