State caught up in NBC, Fincorp land dispute

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 5th September, 2012

THE state is now caught up in a disputed land dispute between the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Paga 36 Ltd, a subsidiary of Fincorp Finance.
Alfred Manase, the lawyer representing the state, told the Waigani National Court yesterday that the urban development lease granted to Paga in 2008 did not comply with procedures.
He also said a 1975 document revealed in court and which showed the land board had recommended a 99-year lease of the land to NBC, had placed the state in an awkward position.
Manase said the state would take the position that necessary procedures were not complied with when the development lease was granted to Paga, apparently signed by then lands and physical planning minister Sir Puka Temu.
He said the state maintained that there was no quorum in the land board meeting that granted the lease to Paga 36.
Joan Usapuna, the executive officer to the PNG Land Board for four years, had testified that there were three board members – chairman Wilson Punin and directors Kutt Paonda and Dau Waskise who were present when the lease was granted to Paga.
Fincorp legal manager, whom Usapuna did not name, was also in that meeting, she said.
The court was told that five members were required to form a quorum and that the chief physical planner and surveyor should be part of the land board decision.
“Former lands and physical planning secretary Pepi Kimas and now acting secretary John Ofoi would also be called to testify in court today,” Manase said.
NBC’s lawyer Ron Webb told the court yesterday the occupation of the land had been continuous since 1975 after the transfer of ownership from the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the NBC.
“All radio broadcast are transmitted from the facility there to all corners of the country,” Webb said.
“The NBC could not discharge its statutory functions (broadcasting) without using the facilities on the land.”
NBC managing director Memafu Kapera and Robin Vuvut, who is the director of engineering, told the court that they were unaware of Paga 36 owning the land.