Failure by Lands Dept ‘a disgrace’

National, Normal

THE Lands Department failed to act on 21 recommendations put forward by the Attorney-General’s Office and this is a disgrace, the Public Accounts Committee, in its first meeting for 2010 yesterday, said.
The PAC was gravely concerned that a failure to act would see no apparent improvement in the improper conduct by the department’s officers in accountability, fiscal and accounting performance.
PAC chairman Timothy Bonga said the Government must immediately, take stock of the department and rectify.
The PAC has made a report to Parliament on the “sad state of affairs” at the Lands Department.
“There has been no attempt to stop the improper conduct of officers and no apparent improvement in its fiscal and accounting performance,” Mr Bonga said.
The PAC said they did not intend to make another Parliamentary report on the department, but send a report to the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Sir Puka Temu.
Eastern Highlands Governor and PAC member Malcolm Kela Smith said the Government must act now to ensure that landowners were not deprived of participation in land development and not miss out on any benefits.
“The land issue is a disgrace and landowners are constantly missing out,” he said.
Another member and Simbu Governor Fr John Garia echoed the sentiments of his neighbouring governor saying “protracted land issues is getting from bad to worse and indeed something must be done”.
“If this continues, something is wrong and this will be a time bomb waiting to explode,” Fr Garia said.
Bulolo MP and vocal PAC member Sam Basil said recommendations had been made and the onus was now on the department to act and for the Government to ensure delivery.