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Commission recommends opening customary lands

By Caldron Laepa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 9, 2009) - The scarcity of land for building houses has triggered a situation where real estate in towns is unaffordable to many, a report says.

One of the recommendations in the Independent Consumers and Competition Commission (ICCC) draft report on Housing and Real Estate Industry Review said there is an immediate need to bring customary land into the real estate market.

The report is the first on its kind to come from the ICCC and it aims to take a holistic approach in dealing with the current housing scarcity.

The report covers all places in the country.

ICCC Commissioner Thomas Abe said there was a great scarcity in raw land which had triggered unaffordable prices for accommodation.

Housing in parts of Port Moresby in prime areas such as Gordon, East Boroko and Korobosea cost about PGK1500 per week rent on average while other areas in the city such as Gerehu and Hohola accommodation costs PGK400 a week on average.

However public servants still have a housing allowance of PGK7 per fortnight.

Mr. Abe said the unaffordablity in housing prices had caused many public servants and working men and women to live in settlements around the country. He said the draft policy would complement work done by government bodies such as the National Land Reform Taskforce headed by Deputy Prime Sir Puka Temu to make housing affordable.

He added that if the customary land could be freed up, it would increase the supply of housing which would bring in competition and lead to reduced housing prices and rents.

Mr. Abe said the high price and lack of affordability of housing were symptoms of the problems listed:

Abe encouraged industries, government agencies and individuals to bring in their comments and suggestion on report.

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