Committee clears Land Compensation Claims

The Lands and Physical Planning Department upon the advice of acting Secretary Oswald Tolopa and under my direction re-established the Land Acquisition Claims Screening Committee.
The main purpose of this Committee was to screen all customary land acquisition claims from landowners, and is composed of senior Department officers who are not directly involved in facilitating the Acquisition process.
The Committee began its screening process in May this year and has sat for a total 20 meetings.

As per its purposes, the committee has made tremendous progress with alarming results so far with regard to Land Compensation claims.

Screening and scrutiny is now complete for the Highlands region, with a total of 373 files vetted.
Of this total, no claims have been recommended for payment yet.
Findings by the committee has unearthed very concerning results, with very strong evidences of fraudulent claims, falsified documentation and fraudulent collusion between the lands, finance and treasury offices over a very long period of time.
These results include the confirmed status of 119 files of the total 373 files vetted as State land valued at K206,403,591.
This is only part of the alarming total K688,234,624.04 value of all claims found to be without the proper documentation, disputed, duplicated and/or fraudulent in nature.
Additionally, some of these claims were found to have been exaggerated and beyond the true value of land claimed for, raising greater concerns on how long this has been allowed to happen.

The findings of the committee further raises the issue of a syndicate in existence over the past decade and costing the state over millions of kina.

Our efforts to rid the department off the disgraceful rot within, as well as in and its systems linking with other Government agencies will continue without fear or favor.

I have addressed disgruntled landowners, who continue to petition and protest the Department with regard to their land compensation claims, on many occasions regarding process, and the Committees findings now grants us the facts to deal with each claim individually.

The Committee will continue its screening process with the remaining 28 Land Compensation Claims from the Southern, NGI and Momase region, while all cases have been referred to respective agencies for further scrutiny and investigation before any legal action is taken.

I thank and commend a/secretary Oswald Tolopa for taking the bold step to act on this long outstanding issue, as well as Committee Chairman and Deputy Secretary Patrick Minato and his team


Information Courtesy of the Minister's facebook page