Customary land will always remain with LOs: Minister

The three-day National Lands Summit in Port Moresby, which ended yesterday, was deemed insightful by the Lands Minister.

Stakeholders and customary landowners shared their concerns and insights on longstanding issues affecting traditional land.

Stakeholders involved in the discussions included financial institutions, the mining, oil and gas sector as well as property developers.

Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko said items and concerns were presented on how customary land can be shaped and moulded to benefit landowners and especially the future generation.

The Lands Minister stressed that customary land will always remain with the traditional landowners.

“Our aims and objectives are not to take away any customary land from our people,” he stated. “It’s about managing it correctly, and properly put laws and regulations in place so our customary landowners have a better understanding of how they can develop their land now for the benefit of their children, grandchildren and so on.

“So the first meeting we had was with the financial sector of Papua New Guinea. All the banks, the super funds…now the banks are very clear. They won’t accept anything other than a state lease. A state lease is what they see as bankable. And a state lease is what they would require for dealing with customary land.

“They will also not look at freehold title. Freehold title as well is another issue causing great concern for different banks in our country, and also for mortgaging properties as well.

“But the banks are willing to work with us and same with the super funds. The super funds have made it clear that they will work 90 percent of their time with what the banks want to do.

“So it’s very important that we get it right with the financial sector of Papua New Guinea when it comes to customary land because we must make sure that our customary landowners have bankable titles, have the opportunity to invest their land and to also make money for themselves and their families into the future.”

Minister Tkatchenko said they also conducted discussions with the mining, oil and gas sector, a sensitive area where there exists numerous issues with customary land.

Some of the points taken from the discussions include what happens to the land post-mining, the need for better education, land life after the mine shuts and the need for clarity on established acts of the mining act, lands act and Incorporated Land Group act, especially when it comes to dealing with landowners.

“The mining sector feels that they haven’t got full understanding of those acts, and they need more information to ensure that they can deal with the landowners directly without causing confrontations and everybody’s on the same page,” stated Tkatchenko.

Carmella Gware