The National, Friday November 14th, 2014
THE Government remains committed in ensuring that customary owners affected by its decision to revoke Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) retain their land, Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa says.
Tomuriesa, who is chairman of the Ministerial Committee, told The National yesterday that the National Executive Council (NEC) revoked 74 SABLs and has made recommendations to the Department of Lands and Physical Planning to cancel the leases.
Lands Secretary Romili Kila-Pat said on Tuesday the department had cancelled 27 SABLs as recommended by the NEC.
Tomuriesa said the committee strongly recommended to Lands to ensure that landowners are involved in any developments taking place on their land.
He added that genuine investors with SABLs who had partnerships with the landowners should work through the department to acquire new leases to enable them to continue their projects.
He said this in response to a letter that was published in yesterday’s paper by a writer with a pseudonym Lus Pruts who questioned what the committee was doing about the SABLs since its establishment.
He assured the writer that the committee had been constantly meeting and updating Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and would be meeting again during the upcoming Parliament session.
He said they have done what has been recommended in the reports by the commissioners of the Commission of Inquiry into the SABLs which has resulted in the revocation of the 74 leases that were illegally obtained.