Message from the Prime Minister

Morning tru long yupla olgeta.
Firstly let me thank Minister Tkatchenko for taking the lead in the consultation process that has taken place right throughout our country. I also acknowledge Governor Powes Parkop for joining us and contributing to this process. I also commend Dr Charles Yala for an outstanding job thus far.

Let me also acknowledge and express our appreciation to the Late Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, one of our great Papua New Guineans and experts in land reform. He was instrumental in advocating for customary land tenure reforms. We are saddened by his loss and grateful that he was instrumental in this process of reform. The last time Customary Land had the full attention of Government was in 1974 when leaders at Self-Government undertook the Inquiry into Land Matters.

Many of you know that this is a very important process. Land is a very important part of our culture, our upbringing and our society. Our people are very much related to our land, our relationship with our land is very important. This consultation process right throughout the country is important for our future as a country going forward.

This is the beginning of how best we can utilise the land to improve the standard of living for our people.
You will find that almost over 90 percent of the land in the country is customary owned. Our responsibility is to ensure that the way of life that has been enshrined into our customary ways for thousands of years remains so.

We can be proud as a country and as a society that unlike many places around the world where ownership of the land is only by a few individuals, much of land remains customary owned. We can be proud that we are one of not many countries in the world who commonly own the land in our societies around the country.
I hope that the discussions on the many forums that you have had have been able to come up with solutions that are going to unlock the potential, this potential of developing the land for the benefit of our people.

There must be no other way. The last thing we want to see is the loss of rights and ownership of the land by our people. That is the last thing that any leader or any person who is custodian of the land would want for the future generation, to allow it to be lost. I do not believe that our society will be a better place if only a few individuals own land while the rest of us are just spectators or just passing through.

Ownership of Customary Land must be protected and I hope that the recommendations and discussions that you have had will enable that well into the future. This is an important process. As leaders we will look into the recommendations of this summit, and all the reforms that have been suggested, and take into account how we are able to encompass them so we can protect ownership of the land for our people, while at the same time commercialise the use of our land.

Land has great potential in our country, our land is very fertile, and able to to reach potential in Agriculture and any development. That is huge potential. We need to keep in mind that our population is growing at an alarming rate very much so, that it is a struggle trying to get Government services to our people. Land will continue to be a problem because of population growth.

Individuals will stand up and try and utilise land for their benefit, improve their living standards, but we must not allow one or two individuals to take advantage of the rest of society, community and our people in the rural areas especially throughout the country. We have seen evidences in the past where Landowner groups want to ensure benefits for their communities and rural people, but a few individuals will take advantage of that. Rightful benefits do not end up with the landowners at all. Only a few will benefit under the pretence of providing leadership for the landowners.

These are the sort of practises that we must be aware of. Every citizen, every landowner and every Customary Landowner must have fair value for benefit out of the land that is utilised. This is not only in resource development but every development whether it is housing or any other business.
We have to find a solution, and this Summit and the processes of consultation and its recommendations will guide us in our decisions.

With these few words I thank all our Customary Landowners from around the country, Department of Lands & Physical Planning, National Research Institute, all Key Government Agencies and Corporate Stakeholders for the constructive efforts over the period of months of consultation. We look forward to the final outcomes and recommendations.

As leaders we will be able to appreciate what our people want and how we can progress the development of customary land in the country.

Thank you very much and we look forward to working closely with you all.


Information Source: National Land Summit Facebook page