The National, Tuesday July 2nd, 2013
By SHIRLYN BELDEN
THE Government owes more than K150 million to customary landowners throughout PNG, according to Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan.
He said the money was owed by his department for land acquired that were not fully paid for and for existing State assets on customary land.
Allan said K13.5 million was still pending to complete the purchases of land while K140 million was for the State assets on customary land.
Allan has appealed to the Government to assist with funds to settle the debts.
He said the debts were hindering the department from acquiring land to meet its objective 3% alienated land and the Government’s 20% under Vision 2050.
“The challenge we have on land access is the funding problem,” Allan said.
“Now we have K13.5 million as payment for acquiring or purchasing land from the customary and owners and that we cannot because we have about a K140 million that is yet to settle for existing government facilities which are on customary land,” he said during the launching of the department’s corporate plan in Port Moresby.
“As we speak, these amounts stand but there are still some more there. We still need to purchase land to increase the 3% alienated land that we have in the country. The Vision 2050 also asks us to get 20% of land from customary land owners.
“Those are the challenges we have in regards to funding that we need to settle the debts to purchase more land.”
Allan said the department’s submission sought National Executive Council (NEC) approval for 50% of land rentals to the department to settle the debts.
Allan said the submission was initially rejected but he planned to resubmit it to NEC as it was vital for the department to acquire funds to pay customary landowners their debts.
“We want the Government to listen to us and assist us,” he said.