The National, Friday 7th September, 2012
By STARZA PAUL
ACTING secretary of Lands John Ofoi says no new Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) are being given out.
“We have stopped all SABL in the country since the inquiry team was engaged by the then Somare-Abal government, and this is the fact,” Ofoi said in Port Moresby yesterday.
He said there were many grievances and concerns raised by the people regarding the leases and it was a controversial issue that his department was aware of.
“We would be stupid to issue new ones and I would like to assure the people that there are no more new SABLs being issued because the issue is still under investigation and a report will be tabled soon in parliament.”
Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Benny Allan said he had been told that the inquiry report was ready and would soon be presented to parliament by the prome minister for recommendations and actions regarding the issue.
He said he understood that no new leases had been issued by the department since the inquiry began in 2010.
Ofoi refuted statements by National Research Institute director Dr Thomas Webster and Dr Charles Yala on Wednesday that the department was still issuing new land under the lease programme.
“The two SABL land portions in Oro – portion 113C and portion 143 – that Dr Webster mentioned are not new leases but are decade-old portions that were issued in the 1990s,” Ofoi said.
“The public has been misled by this information and I want to make it clear that we are only facilitating them and they are not new.”
He said he would not comment on the land disputes between the National Broadcasting Commission and Fincorp over part of land portion 2127 in Waigani as they were before the court.
He said Yala and Webster should go to his office and talk with him and not mislead the public.