Above: Commissioner Nicholas Mirou, inspecting a logging camp with the Turubu SPABL in East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea.
There are strong indications that several Land Grab Leases will be declared void by the Commission of Inquiry into Special Purpose Agriculture Business Leases, due to discreptencies in the process of land acquisition. Several reliable sources have hinted that the Commission has found that these leases were acquired with proper prior informed consent and many of the key landowner figures had received inducements from foreign companies.
It is understood that the Commission of Inquiry into the Special Purpose Agriculture Business Leases (SPABLs) is currently in the process of finalizing its report. The Commission may also be seeking an extension in order to thoroughly address all matters in its report. Given the workload of the SPABL Inquiry more funding may be needed and an extension sought to adequately address all matters in the Commission’s Report to Parliament.
The Commissioners are expected to finalise key recommendations to the Government soon. One of the recommendations that is expected to come out of the Inquiry is a review of the process related to land acquisition. Of particular concern is the manner in which landowner consent is acquired and the manner by which foreign investors have provided inducements to certain leaders in order for the land to be acquired.
Meanwhile, although the work of the Commission is currently proceeding well, staff are being paid “in dribs and drabs” as one source put it. The Commission of Inquiry was given K6 million for six months compared to the recent Rabaul Queen Inquiry that has received K12 million for 3 months.