Lands minister working on SABL cases

The Lands Minister is working with the State Solicitor’s Office to investigate the awarding of all Special Agriculture and Business Leases in the country.

Minister Justin Tkatchenko said the State Solicitor has created a checklist which the Department is now crosschecking with all issued SABLs.

He said this is to ensure the state has a watertight case to revoke illegal SABLs.

Speaking to Loop PNG, Tkatchenko said the checklist outlines the correct and legal means of obtaining SABLs.

“I’m doing things by the book, so that it never comes back to hit us, and then we can get on with the job,” stated the minister.

“The state solicitor is putting very clearly the criteria that is needed for a checklist to ensure that we go through every SABL individually and make sure they have been done properly.” 

The minister stated that leases will be cancelled immediately if they do not follow the set criteria.

Tkatchenko said as of this week, he has received around 75 percent of all land title files and land documents of SABLs being investigated.

He said this is worrying because they are still looking for the remaining 25 percent of SABL documents under investigation.

However, they will still work to ensure all illegal SABLs are cancelled.

“So every SABL will be investigated individually to ensure they follow the process. If they did not follow any process or miss following the process, all those SABLs will be cancelled. Some are good, majority are bad,” stated Tkatchenko.

“Unfortunately this has taken a little bit longer because we want to make sure it’s bulletproof.

“We want to make sure that it’s done correctly so it doesn’t go to court and it doesn’t cause us any inconvenience, especially for the customary landowners that are suffering now because of the SABLs.”

Cedric Patjole