PNG Government Owed Over $44.7 Million In Land Rent

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Single officer to be replaced with collection team

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 16, 2012) – Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan has issued instructions for immediate collection of outstanding state land rents amounting to more than K94 million [US$44.7 million].

The arrears had been incurred over time by various organizations, especially business houses and semi-government bodies.

"I have instructed the Department of Lands and Physical Planning officers to go out and collect all of the K94 million that is owed to the state," Allan said.

He said state lease title holders were required by law to pay an annual land rent or face having their titles forfeited by the state.

"My instructions will be carried out with immediate effect and defaulting lease holders will be penalized by having their lease titles forfeited if they fail to comply with their terms and conditions," Allan said.

"My department has lost millions of kina over the years because defaulting state lease holders, especially business houses and semi-government organizations, have been allowed to get away without sorting out their annual land rental bills," Allan said.

He said a revenue collection section would also be established within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and tasked to collect state lease rentals.

"At the moment, the task to collect land rentals is performed by a single officer within the accounts section, who acts as a debt collector.

"This will no longer be the case. A team of officers will be identified and engaged to chase after and collect all outstanding state land rentals."

Allan said state lease title holders were ignorant and others were deliberately avoiding paying their rent or lease.

Many, he said, do not even bother to advise the department if they had changed their mailing addresses.

"Thus, when the bills are mailed out, they do not get them. I have now advised the department to check all defaulting state lease title holders, send out reminder notices for them to pay their dues and, if they continue to fail to settle their rentals, we will revoke their titles."

He said the department, over the years, had failed to collect rentals on time; state land rents are due in January each year.

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