State’s land lease process clarified

National, Normal

The National- Monday, January 10, 2011

 THE Department of Lands and Physical Planning has refuted claims that it has been selling and giving away prime land in Port Moresby to foreign business interests.

Acting Lands secretary Romilly Pat said the department, as the state agency responsible for dealing with land matters, does not give land away as there were proper procedures and processes to follow.

Pat said if there was vacant land for development, the department puts up a tender and developers apply for the land. 

He said the department then sends the applications to the PNG Lands Board, an independent body that screens the applicants and decides whether or not to forward it to the attention of the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning. 

Pat stated that the minister then signs the applications which are gazetted allowing for a formal “lease title” to be given to the developer by the department. 

“We must understand that the land is not sold or given away but only leased for a period of 99 years.

“After the 99-year period lapses, the contract with the developer expires and the land is forfeited back to the state,” he added.   

He said it was unfortunate that many people did not understand this fact and were forming their own opinions about the department based on  speculations.

He said there were two types of fees that all developers paid when acquiring land from the state.

 These were the administrative fee, which included processing and survey fees and the annual rental fee,  which the developer pays once the lease title was accorded to them. 

Pat stressed that residential, mission, business, agricultural and industrial lands are leased for a period of 99 years with the exception of urban development land (UDL) which is leased for a period of just five years.

He said the difference was that UDLs were large chunks of land that must be developed within a short period whereas the others were land that may take some time to develop.