Priest wants fair deal for customary landowners

National

A CATHOLIC priest has called on the Government to tell companies both foreign and local to renegotiate agreements relating to customary land.
Archbishop Francesco Panfilo told the annual Singkai Lecture on July 5 at the Bomana Catholic Theological Institute that it must be done to “Take back PNG” which the Government has to do.
Panfilo said most Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) were not fair on indigenous owners who had little or nothing to gain despite the use of huge portions of their land and the harvesting of its resources.
He urged the Government to push for renegotiation to ensure:

  • A fair rental payment for the land;
  • fair royalties paid for the export of resources;
  • environmental devastation is addressed;
  • policies are in place to ensure sound environment practices;
  • the respect for sacred sites; and,
  • An appropriate contribution to sustainable community services by the company

Panfilo said Papua New Guineans as Melanesians depended on the land as it was their life.

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