Customary land is resourceful: Expert


CUSTOMARY land can provide greater economic returns if the government does not trade them for agricultural leases, according to an academic.
Dr Tim Anderson, a senior economic lecturer from the University of Sydney, in Australia, told that to a conference during his presentation on the abstract of the report he wrote on the framework for assessing compensation for the wrongful loss of customary land in Papua New Guinea.
“I have been asked by Act Now to prepare an economic evaluation of the compensation for which PNG customary landholders were wrongly dispossessed through Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) and if they would be entitled to it if they successfully sued the government,” he said.
Anderson outlined in his report that about five million hectares of customary land in 77 leases (5,155,742 hectares) was leased to corporations.
“Some of these leases were used to obtain forest clearance authorities from the PNG Forest Authority to permit logging in the SABL areas.
“In 2013, the government was made aware through a Commission of Inquiry (COI 2013) that these leases were unlawful for failure to follow proper process under the Land Act and, in particular, for their failure to ensure the free prior and informed consent of customary landowners.”