SAB Commissioners Hit Back at Government

The commissioners headingthe inquiry intothe Special Agriculture Business leases have hit back at parliament.

They saidthe initial three months given to completethe inquiry was inadequate giventhe fact that seventy seven SABe’s were located in fourteen different provinces.

On top of that wasthe lack of cooperation by government agencies to provide information and funding difficulties.

The special agriculture business leases inquiry was introduced onthe 29th of June 2011, by Sam Abal when he was acting as Prime Minister underthe Somare Government.

An estimated 5.2 million hectares of customary land is listed under Special Purpose Agriculture leases, which has a time period of 99 years. While normal lease- lease are granted for up to 25 and 40 years.

Three months wasthe time frame given to complete investigations but a delay in funding to cover fourteen provinces throughoutthe country was a problem. Eighteen months later, a preliminary report was finally presented tothe Prime Minister.

He announcedthe National Executive Council declaredthe report incomplete and will not accept it. He gavethe commissioners two months to come up with a final report.

Eventhe Justice Minister expressed shame atthe fact thatthe senior lawyers had letthe profession down.

The Commissioners fired back saying it was incumbent onthe Prime Minister to acceptthe report.

The interim report addresses three main areas:

  1. Determiningthe legal authority for the issuance of SABe
  2. Determiningthe procedure for the issuance of SABe in accordance with legal authority if any
  3. And inquire into and assesthe effectiveness of existing legal and policy framework for better management.

They saythe final report will detailthe three main terms of reference.  They said it was inappropriate for Kerenga Kua to criticise in terms of content ofthe report when it had not been tabled yet demanding an apology from him.

The final report will be presented next month.

Meredith Kuusa, National EMTV News

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