Athy Welcomes Court Decision on Efate Leases

Governor Simeon Athy has welcomed the recent court decision on the two land leases on Efate as a major breakthrough on such leases obtained through mistake or fraud.

Commenting in his capacity as an individual from Efate, Mr Athy said there are many similar land leases on Efate alone that had gone through the same process.

He believes that land authorities should in theory be acting in the interest of the resource owners more than any other party.

Athy cited examples of cases he had fought before in court blaming them on inadequate due diligence processes that should have taken place prior to the execution of the leases.

This would avoid the unnecessary legal costs that at times become a burden on the land owners themselves.

He said that land remains the most significant factor of production that needs to be safeguarded for the future generation of this country.

At the same time, he wishes to clarify that certain judgment need to be exercised not to wholly stop the drawing up of new leases.

However, cost benefit analysis needs to be applied to help resource owners make correct decisions on their land—whether to lease it or develop it themselves.

Sadly, that does not seem to be the case at all, Athy said.

He called on the relevant government authorities to take more caution in handling new land leases.

He further elaborated that land was the main reason why Vanuatu gained Independence and to see these things happening right before our eyes defies the whole purpose of those very efforts.

Governor Athy strongly believes that there needs to be more stringent and transparent regulations on the land surveyors who could be partially blamed for their involvement in the final drawing up of such leases.

The technological advancement in land survey today posts high risk on resource owners and therefore needs proper regulatory oversight by the authorities concerned, he said.

He continued to say that people caught in using fraudulent acts or being involved in the process to obtain land through fraud should be brought before the court to face the full force of the law.

 Athy concluded that allowing one certain individual to obtain so much land area on the island of Efate is both unethical and unacceptable, given that land remains the only asset through which people can be empowered.

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