By LUKE KAMA
LANDS Minister Benny Allan is calling on all title holders under the controversial special agriculture business leases (SABLs) to voluntarily surrender them to the Lands Department.
Allan told a media conference in Port Moresby yesterday that all SABLs were cancelled by the Government already and anyone doing business on land obtained under a SABL was doing so illegally and would have to voluntarily surrender the lease to and seek further assistance.
The minister issued the statement amidst complaints from citizens and landowners that developers were still doing business and claiming ownership of the land they (investors) had acquired through SABLs despite the cancellation of all such leases.
“We have announced to the country and the people that the Government has taken a blanket cancellation of all special agriculture business leases in the country and as we speak, they are all illegal,” he said.
“But what we are asking is for investors to surrender those titles and the department will assist them to go through the voluntary customary land registration so that they can register the land through incorporated land groups and the voluntary customary land registration that we have.
“We had a meeting last week and I have given directions to acting secretary to write letters to all special agriculture business lease holders, informing them that the leases that they are holding are illegal and no longer in force now.
“It’s another useless document of no legal value and effect and they should all surrender them back to the department to assist them.
“We will put them through customary land registration so it’s just the conversion that we are doing with participation of the landowners.
Allan also reiterated that landowners must also come forward and tell whether developers or investors were working with them to convert land or ignoring government directives.
By LUKE KAMA