PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 9) - For once in a long time, there is a report to the Government from a committee, which has excellent recommendations and will make huge improvements if acted on.

This is the report of the National Land Development Taskforce.

Among its major recommendations is the suggestion that government land should be sold through public auction.

Such a method of selling land could remove the huge scope for corruption that exists with the current system, where people apply almost secretly to land boards and wait to hear the behind closed doors decisions that are dished out by a small cabal of board members.

The system has been open to rotting for decades. Some would say it has been used by influential people to get what they want by "greasing palms."

These views are commonly heard although not proven. But even the impression of corruption is demeaning to a democracy like ours.

The people must have confidence in the workings of government to believe in the Government and its servants, the employees of the state.

Land is one of those core topics, one that most people think about seriously. There are substantial businesspeople who want to deal in land, either to build a bigger and better house or to invest.

But there are countless thousands of ordinary workers who have tied themselves to the formal economy by staying in our cities and towns on cash employment and want a permanent home.

They are tired of finding a corner in under-served settlements, not catered for by employer provided housing and looking for a comfortable house for their partner and children.

But the current soaring costs of developed land are horrendous for these people.

Most do not have the inside knowledge of the system to be able to get their hands on land, unless it is in the one of the tougher areas where ordinary people fear to tread.

It is time for a fairer system to be introduced.

The report team has the right idea, that such a system should cut out much of the potential corruption, as long as it is devised with an eye to equity and with built-in safeguards.

We beseech the Government to consider and deliver on this report quickly.

A government with the best interests of the urban grassroots at heart should see its merits.

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