Tuesday, 16 October 2012

State lease title holders throughout PNG owe Lands Department K94 million

State Lease Title holders throughout the country owe K94 million to the Department of Lands and Physical Planning through unpaid annual land rent.

This was revealed in a statement issued by Lands Minister Benny Allan. And officers of the Department have been instructed to immediately collect on all outstanding arrears.

Mr Allan said that “state lease title holders are required by law to pay an annual land rent or face having their titles forfeited by the state.
“I have instructed Department of Lands and Physical Planning officers to go out and collect all of the K94 million that is owed to the state,” Mr Allan said.

He further stated that the Department had lost out on millions of kina because of “defaulting state lease holders, especially business houses and semi-government organizations, have been allowed to get away without sorting out their annual land rental bills”, with many deliberately avoiding paying their annual land rent.
This situation has been exacerbated by the lack of a dedicated section within the department for debt collection.
Mr Allan said that the task of rent collection is currently being carried out by a single officer within the accounts section.
Mr Allan also advised that a new section would be established within the Department specifically for collecting state lease rentals, after which reminder notices will be issued to all state lease title holders.

“All defaulters must pay their arrears or face having their titles revoked,” Mr Allan said.
Meanwhile in a separate statement, Mr Allan announced that “the process of interested parties applying for state land titles prior to their applications going to the Lands Board will be reviewed.

He said the review of the awarding and screening processes and procedures was necessary to cut down on the amount of bias and alleged corrupt practices that had been leveled against the Department and the Lands Board over the years.
“Under the proposed revision, all applications will go to a technical committee, comprising all sectional heads within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning.

“The technical committee will check that all procedures and processes have been followed before submitting them to the Lands Board for its recommendation to the minister for approval,” Mr Allan said.
Mr Allan said this proposed change should result in greater transparency and allow ordinary Papua New Guineans a better “chance of obtaining state lease titles as long as they meet the requirements”.

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