Office needed to address customary land issues


A SEPARATE office needs to be established to deal with customary land issues, principal and director of Niugini Land and Properties Ltd Dr Charles Yala says.
Speaking at a panel discussion during the 35th Australia-PNG Forum and Trade Expo yesterday on the topic of unlocking customary land in Papua New Guinea, Yala said the Department of Lands and Physical Planning needed to effectively address the issue for the potential benefits it could engender.
“They (Lands Department) are not designed or equipped to accommodate customary land and that is where the problem is,” Yala said.
“The private sector wants land, developers want land, landowners want to mobilise their land. They don’t know where to go, who to see regarding customary land and how to go about.
“It is important that an office is established, or a separate entity is established that takes custody of the 17 resolutions of the 2019 National Land Summit and drive development of the customary land.”
National Research Institute research fellow Logea Nao said during the National Land Summit last month that the discussions and reviews had come up with 17 resolutions. These includes:

  • Land owner identification. There should not be one single process of identifying landowners in which establishing a structured process for the identification of customary landowners is critical for the successful mobilisation of customary land for development;
  • incorporated land groups (ILGs). There is no clear consensus on the usefulness of the ILG as a vehicle for mobilising customary land for development thereby the relevance of the ILG as a vehicle for mobilising land for development needs to be reviewed with the view to amend or repeal the ILG Act; and,
  • Benefit sharing. A structured benefit sharing arrangement for incomes generated from the mobilisation of land is required for development on which developing a legal framework that guides the mobilisation of customary land for development and the distribution of the proceeds from the development.

Yala said there was no policy and legal framework on resettlement.
“Our mining industry is calling out for land for resettlement. There are people that need to be resettled because there is mining activity. They don’t know where to resolve and how,” he said.
“There is no legal framework and there is no policy.”