I was talking to an intending candidate for the NCD Governor seat recently and we got to talking about two of his main policies. The first being Land Reform and the second Proper Electoral Representation.
The candidate is of mixed Central heritage, meaning he’s from various parts of the Papua region, so he explained to me that only a Central would have a proper focus on the local landowners issues and only a Central would be effectively equipped to deal with their issues.
In regards to land reform he gave me the analogy of NASFUND. He said NASFUND would no doubt be one of the biggest property owners in NCD. So with over a thousand members to the this billion kina fund, all these members benefit from property interests that only represent about 2% of land use in NCD. Now image if 90% of the land, currently in customary ownership, were making money for its 250,000 odd Central population. This would mean immediate wealth for the traditional landowners if they can co-ordinate themselves.
His plan would be to properly register ILG’s to be able to give landowners a proper footing for entering into business with investors. Much like the current discussions going on about land owners in resource rich parts of PNG. The concept would be of the landowners offering the land as equity in any business transaction so that they are partners and not minority shareholders without control. Ultimately the concept would be that no traditional land is ever sold and that their children would continue to benefit financially from investment from these land developments. In short the Motu-Koitabu’s, the Koiari’s and all other Central groups could become significant property owners.
In order to take this forward and after the ILG’s are registered, the next step would be to create three main townships outside of NCD to expand the use of land outside of NCD and towards Central Province. One would be in Brown River, one at Papa – Lea Lea and sorry I forget the third one now. The strategy would be to invest in infrastructure and utilities in these townships to move NCD populations outwards but in a controlled manner in partnership with the landowners. So for example Papa-Lea Lea could become an industrial hub to cater for LNG related businesses, Brown River would cater for agricultural businesses and so on. In this way we would create more businesses and be able to draw out the large unemployed population to begin gaining employment in these economic centres. Additionally with better roads out to these townships housing can follow the path of these roads.
Two things to remember about this strategy is that, 1) no matter what money is made in all the Provinces in PNG, that money will almost always end up in Port Moresby, and 2) Central Province has all the land and NCD has all the money, so they both need to be brought together.
On his second policy of Proper Electoral Representation, (this ties in with increasing employment through the opening up of customary land through ILG’s), his idea is that everyone who is a part of the formal economy of NCD should be the only ones that are able to vote for the NCD Governor. This does not mean that buai sellers or market sellers cannot vote, it simply means that they need to register companies or business names and open bank accounts.
Now in terms of everyone else who has just arrived in Port Moresby or who is unemployed, you can still vote at election time. The only proviso is that you vote for your leader from whatever Province you come from, either physically or by proxy. His idea is that this creates a better relationship between the electorate and its leaders as opposed to the current trend where leaders have to continuously dish out money to keep unproductive people happy when their focus needs to be on the whole electorate. It also takes away that pressure of having to give jobs and contracts to people who have helped you during the campaign period.
Obviously this would need further discussion to work out logistically and financially how it would work, but it is a fresh approach which I have never come across before.
Let us know what you think of these ideas for NCD.