Lands dept under scope for number of matters

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday 21st September 2012

THE Department of Lands and Physical Planning is still being put under the microscope on a host of land-related matters.
Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan said there had been serious allegations and concerns raised by members of the public, groups, individuals and the business community.
He said sentiments expressed by critics were related to a number of factors, including:
l    Land allocation (both alienated and customary);
l    Land ownership (legitimacy of titles);
l    Land processes and procedures; and
l    Customer services (very slow response to customer needs).
Addressing the swearing-in of the provincial lands and physical planning boards in West New Britain, Allan said in 2006 the Department of Lands and Physical Planning came under close scrutiny by the National Land Development Task Force (NLDTF).
“As a result of this investigation, 47 recommendations were made in the NLDTF report to revitalise the department.
“Considering all the recommendations in the NLDTF report, the department has commenced its implementation through a proactive approach,” Allan said.
He said the department was approaching the implementation of these recommendations diligently, firstly by ensuring that the department knew its environment setting first “before making any tailor-made, PNG-home-grown land reform concept becoming a reality”.
Allan said some of the most notable initiatives contained in the NLDTF report were:
l    The inclusion of Customary Land Services as a separate section to handle the complex and sensitive issues encountered when dealing with customary land;
l    The streamlining of all the operational, administrative and technical functions of the department by complementing them in the department’s restructure, which became effective in 2010;
l    In partnership with
a business solutions com­-
pany, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning was reviewing past land processes and would introduce logical methods and pathways to enhance service deli­very. The Lagis Enhancement Project is scheduled for implementation in September 2013; and
l    The construction of a new specific-designed building to house the Department of Lands and Physical Planning. Work was progressing well and was set for completion in early 2013.
“With these new initiatives being introduced, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning is expected to experience a more proactive approach in its conduct of business with a well-regulated system of land processes and procedures and better delivery in the discharge of Land and Physical Planning functions,” Allan said.
“The sentiment expressed in relation to land allocation, land ownership and processes and customer services are being noted and are treated with caution.”