The 2nd Meeting of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources annual session was held at Efalfal Resort, Pango from the 31st of June to the 3rd of July 2009.
The Ministry of Lands is now preparing the first set of amendments to the new land laws which were passed by Parliament in December 2013 and gazetted on the 20th February 2014.
In accordance with the change to Article 30 of the Constitution, these amendments will have to be tabled with the Malvatumauri before they can be tabled in Parliament, so the Ministry is preparing the bills to present to the Malvatumauri Council meeting scheduled for early to mid April so that the Council’s views can be received before the amendments are tabled in Parliament at its next sitting at the end of April.
The first set of amendments will be changes to specific provisions of the Custom Land Management Act (CLMA) relating to the process for determining custom ownership which will come from Efate’s Vaturisu Council of Chiefs. The full council of the Vaturisu will be meeting with the Minister of Lands next week to agree on these amendments. A further set of amendments to the CLMA and the Land Reform Act will come from the Department of Lands and the Office of Land Dispute Management, which have been meeting to agree on amendments to improve the practicality of implementation of the new leasing process.
The Minister will also begin a series of meetings with the members of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce on the 7th March to get their views on possible amendments.
A fiscal analysis is also now being undertaken on the cost of implementing the new laws, which will inform the preparation of the 2015 budgets for the Department of Lands, the Office of Land Dispute Management and the Office of the Land Ombudsman. This analysis will also determine if a supplementary budget will be required this year to facilitate effective implementation. In addition, a series of “User guides” to using the new laws are now being prepared for different stakeholders (custom owners, lessees, chiefs, etc) and these should be published next month also.
Minister Ralph Regenvanu says, “Now that we have removed the unilateral and unfettered powers of the Minister of Lands, which have resulted in so much customary land being leased against the wishes of custom owners and local communities, and now that the Constitution requires the government to consult with the chiefs before making any further changes to the land laws, I feel we have now securely established a new paradigm for dealing with the leasing of customary land into the future. The first hurdle was to remove the power of the Minister, and this was always going to be the most difficult and politically sensitive hurdle to overcome, which is why it had not been overcome by successive government despite this being a principal recommendation of the Land Summit eight years ago. Now that this has been achieved, it is important to make sure the laws are as practical and as easy to use as possible and now is the time to make sure we do this through further amendments to the laws. The reform is not over, in fact it has just begun, and I envisage that we will be “fine-tuning” these laws in parliament for the rest of this year at least.”
You can find this law here