AN article that appeared in The National on Wednesday, attributed to Justice Minister Bryan Kramer, said: “Every year, approximately K34 million is lost in unclaimed State lease rental arrears in Port Moresby alone, because it is statute barred in accordance with the Frauds and Limitations Act and cannot be recovered.”
This makes me wonder whether the minister is correct in saying that the State, through the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, cannot collect these outstanding land lease rental arrears from the various leaseholders of State land within the National Capital District.
What are the reasons for such outstanding rental arrears to be statute barred when the State lease rentals are supposed to be paid on an annual basis by the leaseholder as stipulated in the terms and conditions of the lease, upon being granted by the land board?
The land lease rentals are reappraised every 10 years during the term of the lease.
There are legal requirements under the Land Act 1996 for the State, through the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, to ensure that leaseholders pay up their annual land lease rentals annually.
Failure to do so results in recovery processes being instigated by issuing demand notices to the defaulting leaseholders, upon which if no favourable response are received by the State, forfeiture processes are then commenced to forfeit the lease for non-compliance with the demand notices.
Under these circumstances, the leaseholders, in order to maintain their lease or interests in the property, would then normally come forward and settle their outstanding land lease rentals.
This is the process as I would understand it and I am bemused as to what Kramer is saying about the land lease rentals being statute barred.
If this is what the law dictates, then obviously, the State, through the Department of Lands and Physical Planning, had failed to carry out its obligated responsibilities to ensure land lease rentals are collected on time and to forfeit the leases for the defaulting leaseholders when legally required.