Service delivery in the land sector in Bougainville has now been made easier following the full draw down of all powers and functions for Land Administration from the National Government to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Today, the ABG President Ishmael Toroama and National Minister for Lands John Rosso, signed the drawdown instrument that allows the transfer of full land administration powers to Bougainville.
President Toroama hailed the draw down of powers as momentous event in the history of Bougainville. In his address, President Toroama expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister James Marape and the National Minister John Rosso as well as the National and ABG Department of Lands for their efforts to draw these powers and functions to the ABG.
“I am pleased to acknowledge and bear witness to the successful working relationship between both governments to ensure Bougainville’s independent management of its own land affairs the Bougainville way,” Toroama said.
ABG Lands Minister Robert Hamal Sawa in his remarks stated that land is the foundation of any form of development in Bougainville, and the drawdown of land powers now allows Bougainville to now manage its own lands affairs.
He appealed to all Bougainvilleans to work closely with his Department when dealing with any land issues going forward.
He said that state land in Bougainville is scarce so people must work together with the government to make available customary land to enable the government to develop and add value to it.
Minister Sawa further announced that his Department is also in the process of developing the Bougainville Lands Act.
“My department is working on the Lands Act - the act is a home-grown Lands Act that is being developed to address issues that are unique to Bougainville,” he said.
National Minister for Lands John Rosso in his remarks described the event as a milestone achievement for both governments.
He said that the Marape-Basil government is adamant that the national government must devolve as much powers as possible in line with the timelines and agreements between both governments.
The signing today included the devolution of powers and functions of land administration powers, and uplifting of moratorium on the land rentals in the region so ABG can start to collect rentals on the state leases throughout the region.
“This will greatly assist and enhance the ABG in its revenue collection methods. ABG will now have its first ever regional land board to be established. This is on top of the Physical Planning board which has already been established,” he said.
“With these powers now that we give to you, it makes you solely responsible and accountable for your own land.”
The event today also saw the swearing in of the Land Board Members. The newly established Land Board for Bougainville will be chaired by Robert Critchley, with other members including Agnes Titus, Henry Stalei, Ralph Christan, Albert Nukuitu, Fr Patrick Baria and Clement Sipara.
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