Companies not given right of reply

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THREE companies named adversely in the Public Accounts Committee investigation into land dealings have come out saying they were never given the right of reply.
Paga Hill Development Company, Bluehaven No. 7 and Willing Pacific Ltd last week told The National their respective companies were not called upon to give evidence at the inquiry.
Most particularly their contention is that the Department of Lands and Physical Planning has equally thwarted their efforts to develop their respective pieces of land by a protracted process of procrastination and frustration. So much so that two of the developers spent substantial amounts of money and a third went to court to resolve its case.
The PAC report states that Portion 1597 Granville or Paga Hill was previously reserve land which passed into a urban development lease through dubious manipulation.
The company, Paga Hill Development Company, counters however that it has met all the requirements and a five-year urban development lease was granted properly in 1998, followed by a 99-year State lease on Sept 1, 2000.
However, despite grant of the 99-year State lease and having a title, no development has taken place “as potential investors have pulled out due to continuous interference from the Department of Lands”, according to a Lands board submission from the company dated Sept 12 last year.
Also the file has partially gone missing from the Department of Lands, a fact also uncovered by the PAC. The company also states that despite the grant of a 99-year State lease, the Lands Department computer database as the land on a five-year UDL.
The PAC on July 17, 2008, “after thorough enquiries and assessment, cleared the issues surrounding the Paga Hill and given their support for the intended development projects to be commenced”.
A representative of Bluehaven No. 7 said with regards to lots 2 & 3 of section 111 at Boroko that the land has been surveyed and renamed Section 111, lot 6.
In this case, Joe Bagme of Bluehaven said the minister at the time withheld title to the company because the minister also had a interest in the land through a company he was associated with.
Letters of grants and letters of acceptance between the Lands Department and the company for grant of a commercial lease were signed and exchanged and fees were paid for a title before the minister’s ill-timed move.
Four years passed before the company went to court to force the issue for the issuance of a title. The Lands Department was not represented in court and the Solicitor General could not continue because of lack of instructions. The court ordered the matter to be settled administratively out of court and the Solicitor-General advised that the title be granted. It was granted and the company discontinued legal action.
Bluehaven has written to the PAC advising that the Lands secretary be summoned and prosecuted for protracted procrastination and also for perjury as it alleged the secretary told the PAC stories which were not true.
“I want the secretary and his legal adviser to go or be prosecuted because their inaction has cost the State and potential developers a lot of money, time and anxiety,” Mr Bagme said.
The third company, Willing Pacific, has applied for a UDL for five years over section 229, lot 24. There were only two applicants, PNG Power and Willing Pacific, and the latter won the land. Under the terms of the lease the company surveyed the land and did a sub-division which divided lot 24 further into lost 25 to 70.
Principal of Willing Pacific, Simeon Manihiha said the PAC had been misled. It was not the Sisters of Charity who were crying foul but he was crying foul over the Sisters taking up his land (part of section 69).
This has seen been confirmed by the Catholic church that the convent has actually encroached on Willing Pacific land and negotiations are under way for the church to give the company an alternate piece of land.
Mr Manihiha said Willing Pacific was never consulted by the PAC. 
“The first thing I knew was when it came out in the newspapers. This is an injustice to me. I would have given documentary evidence otherwise.”