By Cedric Patjole in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop is calling on the state to use its veto powers to revoke land leases given to private companies or individuals and return them for public use.
Parkop said many of the ongoing court battles between the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) and companies or individuals over state land could be avoided if the Lands Minister and Secretary revoked leases given under suspicious circumstances.
‘The Minister and Secretary for Lands, they can just in one go, clean it out, say that it belongs to the public, and that’s it. They have the power to revoke whatever lease that has been granted out.
“Because at the end of the day, the land that is in the city belongs to the state and remains state land,” Parkop said.
The NCDC recently concluded one battle with the National Court recognising NCDC lease over land which the Koki Betelnut market sits, which has cost a considerable amount of money.
Parkop said with the legal battle over Unagi Oval, more than K1 million (NZ$440,000) has been spent on legal fees alone.
He added the Jack Pidik Park has been leased to a private developer and is recognised by Supreme Court decision well before Parkop entered politics.
“This is another case in which we are wasting unnecessary public funds, unnecessary time, because of the incompetency and the corruption in the department of lands.
“I’ve said this before and I will say it again. Lands Department is full of corruption. Why should we have to go to court to spend public money to correct something that can be corrected by the lands department or should not happen in the first place?” Parkop questioned.
Parkop said the Minister and Secretary for Lands were the custodians of state lands and had a legal and moral duty to protect it for the people.
Cedric Patjole is a Loop PNG reporter.