Is the PNG Land Grab Relevant to Fiji?
The New Land Grab in Papua New Guinea
By Colin Filer, Australian National University
This article by Colin Filer is of particular importance to Fiji because it shows what could happen if Government's Land Bank initiatives go pear-shaped. The Land Bank was established by the Land Use Decree 2010 in which the state actively looks for available land and prospective tenants and acts as an intermediary by leasing land from the owners and sub-leasing to farmers and investors. Leases are normally for 99 years and rent payments are guaranteed by the state. It seems like a win-win arrangement, but ...
Filer's article opens ...
It is still commonly asserted that 97 percent of the land in Papua New Guinea remains under customary ownership, just as it was when PNG gained its independence from Australian colonial rule in 1975 . Indeed, some commentators believe that this abiding reality is a major constraint on the country’s economic development. But there is now some cause for these commentators to celebrate a new reality. Between the beginning of July 2003 and the end of January 2011, almost 5 million hectares of customary land (11 percent of PNG’s total land area) has passed into the hands of national and foreign corporate entities through a legal mechanism known as the ‘lease-leaseback scheme’. This is twice the amount of land which one international study found to have been ‘grabbed’ by corporate interests across five different African countries over a comparable period of time.
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