Kondra’s proposed bill must be rejected

Letters, Normal

I REFER to the report “Landowners forum in Madang” (The National, Sept 9).
It is reported that purpose of the forum is to discuss, among other things, the proposed law before Parliament to amend section 5 of the Mining Act of 1992 and section 5 of the Oil and Gas Act of 1998. 
The proposer of the bill, Boka Kondra, and resources landowner representatives must consider the serious consequences of the proposed law, which is detrimental to the sovereignty and nationhood of PNG.
Mr Kondra must realise that the bill will serve the interest of a few provinces and greedy landowners who are always serving their own interest at the expense of the majority of the people they purport to represent. 
The MP is a national minister and he has an obligation to introduce policies and laws that would serve the interest of the nation and not tear the nation apart.
If Mr Kondra is blindly moving the bill, I appeal to the other 108 MPs not to be misled by the proposed bill. 
If the proposed bill becomes a law, this would enable landowners to own both resources inside the ground and everything on the surface.
The State will own nothing – the resources on the surface or under the ground.
If it does not have land and resources, it is like a sitting duck.
This means landowners would negotiate and engage foreign mining, petroleum and oil companies to invest in their areas without the National Government’s control. 
Will landowners share the benefits with every other Papua New Guinean? 
The answer is no.  
Will they have the capacity in terms of capital, technical expertise and machines to deal with the foreigner companies? 
The answer is anyone’s guess.
Land refers to all the economic resources found on the surface and under it.
Land also refers to all the marine resources, forestry, minerals, petroleum resources, etc. 
If we entertain the bill in relation to mineral, oil and gas, then this would also have implications on other resources such as marine resources, forestry and so on.
Land is one of the four important factors of productions used for producing goods and services in a given economy. 
The other three are labour, capital and entrepreneurship. 
When all the four economic resources are fully employed, our economy will reach its full potential in production and we will have economic growth.
In PNG, land is not fully utilised for growing the economy because 97% of the land is traditionally owned while the remaining 3% is owned by the State. 
Formal financial institutions and banking industry do not give loans to landowners to do business for one reason or another and unemployment of land is a major impediment to economic growth.
At present, PNG’s economic growth mainly emanate from extraction of natural resources such as minerals, gas and oil and we just cannot afford to hand this blindly to a few greedy landowners.
I suggest the Somare-Temu Government should revise section 5 of the Mining Act of 1992 and section 5 of the Oil and Gas Act of 1998 so that the State is the sole owner of every resource on the surface of the land as well as under it.
The State should use these resources for our collective benefit rather than a few greedy landowners.


Mamando Aiyun-Pain