Ongoing Land Reforms in PNG
The ongoing land reforms in Papua New Guinea (PNG) started in 2005 with the inaugural National Land Summit (NLS2005) held at the University of Technology in Lae. Upon the receipt of the NLS2005 report, the National Executive Council (NEC) established the National Land Development Taskforce (NLDT) in 2006 to further explore the issues that came out of NLS2005.
The NLDT in 2007 presented a report with a total of 54 recommendations, categorised into the three thematic issues that emerged from the NLS2005:
- Improving land administration - 47/54 recommendations.
- Developing a system for accessing customary land for development - 6/54 recommendations.
- Developing a system for improving land dispute settlement - 1/54 recommendations.
The NEC upon receipt of the NLDT report recommendations established the National Land Development Program Phase I (NLDP I) with allocated funding to start the implementation of the NLDT report recommendations as of 2007. NLDP I abruptly ended in 2015 when the NLDP I activities were subsumed into the Land and Affordable Ministerial committee.
In the implementation phase of the NLDP I, new issues emerged:
- titles issued under the amended Land Registration Act 1981 are not bankable;
- freehold titles issued under Land Tenure Conversion Act 1963 are not bankable;
- controversies surrounding Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL);
- increasing direct & unscrupulous dealings on customary land mainly within peri-urban areas.
- competing government policies such as Land and Affordable Housing, Urbanization and Ten Houses per District undermining land reforms under NLDP I, and
- the urgent need for review and enactment of enabling and consequential legislative and administrative mechanisms to make it easier for transactions on customary land that empowers customary landowners to use their own customary land to improve their livelihood.
Milestone Achievements under NLDP I:
- Amendments to Land Registration (Customary) Act 1981 and Land (Groups Incorporation) Act 1974 thereby establishing the Voluntary Customary Land Registration (VCLR) System.
- Creation of the Customary Land Division headed by a Deputy Secretary within DLPP.
- Construction and occupation of Eda Tano Haus; and
- Creation of the Office of Deputy Chief Magistrate - Land Court.
National Land Summit 2019
National Land Summit 2019 (NLS 2019) was in response to issues that emerged during the implementation of reforms under NLDP I. Informed by these issues, the focus of NLS2019 shifted to reforms into policies, laws, and administration dealing with customary land.
In 2019, the Lands Department in collaboration with other relevant government agencies successfully delivered the NLS 2019 by hosting a series of workshops:
- Stakeholder Workshop targeting users and regulators on 06th - 08th February 2019;
- 4 Regional Workshops: Southern on 21st – 22nd February 2019; Momase on 07th - 08th March 2019; Islands on 14th – 15th March 2019 and Highlands on 21st - 22nd March 2019; and
- The final & main National Land Summit was held on 01st – 03rd May 2019 at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Port Moresby to validate and adopt the NLS2019 Outcomes and Resolutions. A total of 17 resolutions were adopted.
Upon receipt of the NLS 2019 report, the NEC on 04 September 2019, through NEC Decision number NG70/2019 adopted the outcomes of the NLS 2019 and established the National Land Development Program Phase II (NLDP Phase II) to implement the NLS 2019 outcomes. The Government progressed to incorporate NLDP II in the 2020 National Budget and appropriate K10 million per year, starting in 2020 for the next 5 years.