THE Land Board has inexplicably granted the same piece of land to two different parties even while not complying with zoning restrictions under the law.
The land concerns allotment 13 (previously allotments 1, 2, 3 and thence allotment 11) of section 122 Hohola.
The Public Accounts Committee maintains that land was and still is zoned “open space” and, therefore, a lease cannot be granted.
In apparent contravention of section 67 of the Land Act, this 6.49ha of prime land was the subject of an application by company calling itself Virgo No.65 Ltd for the grant of a business (commercial) lease.
This application was listed before Land Board No. 2006 (Item 20).
Furthermore, this land was exempted from advertisement and the Department of Lands has attributed this exemption to persons within the office of the then minister for Lands.
The PAC found that: “It is an inexplicable fact that the same Land Board hearing this application (which stated that allotment 13 previously comprised allotments 2 and 3 section 122) also considered and recommended the grant to National Capital District Commission (NCDC) of a special purposes (park reserve) lease over allotments 1 and 2 section 122 Hohola – which no longer existed.
“The Land Board, therefore, managed to deal with the same land in two different forms – one existing and the other not – for two different applicants, notwithstanding that the land was zoned “open space” and could not be dealt with at all.
One grant to Virgo No.65 Ltd and the other (over lot 2 – actually lot 13) to NCDC.
“The grant was subsequently cancelled by gazettal for want of compliance with section 67 of the Land Act 1996.
This is to the credit of the department.
However, the National Court, in the absence of opposition from the State, ordered the title to issue – an order that the Minister for Lands obeyed.
“This committee concludes that the NCDC and the public had lost zoned Reserved Land, the State had received no payment and the whole transaction was totally unlawful.
More worrying is the failure of the department to protect this asset in the first place.
“The dealings with section 122 Hohola well illustrate the shortcomings of the Land Board system and these transactions are by no means isolated.
The dealings are not consistent with mere incompetence.”
Other allotments are still be contested in court at the present time.
Allotments 14, 15, 16 and 17 are also parcels on section 122, Hohola.
They too are zoned “Open Space” and probably form part of allotment 13.
Three applications, each seeking the grant of a “business and special purposes lease” (note it should be a business or special purposes lease) were made for this Land by Rohn No.3 Ltd, Pohn Ltd and Itu Development Ltd. and were listed before PNG Land Board 2005 (Items 132, 133 and 134) – one day before the Land Board was due to sit.
This contravened section 58 (3)of the Land Act 1996.
Nevertheless, each of the three “recommended grants” were gazetted in National Gazette G39 on the 17/03/1999.
“Once again, the State and the public have been deprived of reserved land quite illegally,” the PAC concluded.
“The Department of Lands, despite knowing of this illegality, has done nothing to rectify the situation.”