Minister Paul Telukluk (fourth from left) flanked by Fist PA Wendy Himford (second left), DG Joe Ligo (third left), CEO Michael Mangawai and departments heads and representatives

By Godwin Ligo

“Ministry of lands collected Vt500 million in 2014 but collected Vt800 million in 2010 when I was the then Minister of Lands.

“The Lands Ministry is the second biggest revenue earner for Vanuatu following the Ministry of Finance,” says the new Lands Minister Paul Telukluk.

He said he aims for the Lands Ministry under his current leadership to target Vt800 million and above and for the Ministry to become the biggest single revenue earner for the country while applying priorities he wants to see achieved during his term.

Telukluk made the remarks when he outlined his Ministry’s five priorities to his Department Heads and Representatives together with the Lands Ministry Director General, Joe Ligo, and the First Political Adviser Wendy Himford, in a gathering yesterday morning. But before detailing the five priorities, Minister Paul Telukluk reminded the Ministry senior officers that this is not the first time he is occupying this position, as he has held the position of Lands Minister portfolio before.

He also stated that the portfolio of energy and water has been relocated to the Ministry of Lands, and he looks forward to have what he alleged as “an issue between URA and the Government” resolved under the Ministry of Lands, Geology and Mines, Energy and Water with him being the minister during the term of this government.

“I urge all of you to speed up the process of Land transfer because, the longer we hold on to them, the more the government is losing millions of vatus in term of revenue collection.

“This is also to help the country’s quick economic recovery following cyclone Pam,” he told department heads.

Telukluk told departments heads and representatives that: First priority is the sale of land to the Lands Department staff which he alleged went to the court.

He said he has already requested the Ministry Director General and the Chief Executive Officer to prepare a Council of Ministers Paper on the matter which should strike off the court case against the Lands Department staff for lands they purchased.

He said the new Housing Policy under the Kilman Government, is to ensure that when civil servants retire or end their services with the Government, they would have a piece of land and a permanent house.

“This is a privilege to be accorded to the civil servants,” he said.

“The Government of the day is to serve the people of Vanuatu and the staff of the Department of Land, you are the engine of making things happen and the developments.

“If the Government does not take good care of its employees, how can one expect the public servants to perform your best for the best service delivery to the people?” the new Lands Minister questions.

He revealed that in 2006, Vanuatu topped the Pacific in Real Estate and Construction economic sectors by 7.3% and called on his departments heads to continue to maintain the Mministry’s contribution in the country’s overall economic developments.

The second priority is to repeal the Land Law Reform of 2013 and 2014.

He said he is aware of a lot of input that went into the Land Law Reform and a Consultative agenda that what was set up with the chiefs , the custom land owners to sort out land disputes, but the Kilman Government policy now is to repeal the Land Law Reform, the new Land Minister stressed.

He said the reason for this is to boost economic development and said he had already instructed his DG to ensure that a Council of Ministers Paper on this is ready as soon as possible and which the present government wants to ensure that developments are always fair between the land owner and developer.

The third priority, the minister explained is water: “I wish to congratulate the Acting Director of Geology and Mines and Water for the part played in the Cyclone Pam WASH Cluster Group which he said the donor partners and the NGOs have expressed their appreciation for the role played by the Lands Ministry Water Section Acting Director”.

The fourth priority point raised by the minister is to amend the Mines and Mineral Act so that Custom Land Owners will have share ownership in mineral resources in accordance with the vision for the independence and resolutions on the same taken by the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs.

The fifth priority outlined by the new Lands Minister Paul Telukluk is the Energy: “Electricity must reach all rural areas of Vanuatu to empower rural economic developments which are in the pipeline and those to follow in the future,” Minister Paul Telukluk stressed.

He called on Department Heads to produce reports and plans of projects already undertaken and those to be undertaken, the costs, areas where projects have or will be established and who the donors were or are.

“Last but not the least, I wish to announce that the National Housing Corporation has now been transferred to my portfolio and I want the DG and the Director of WASH cluster to provide me with the report of the National Recovery Action Plan of the Government on post-Cyclone Pam,” the Minister requested.

“If the DG or any head of departments staff override any policy decisions that I make as elected MP voted in by the people, and as the Minister of Lands, the answer is quite clear of what step I would take,” the Minister warns.

“I am calling on all of to work together for the good development of all and responsibilities under this ministry for the welfare of the people of Vanuatu from the North to the South of the country,” the new Lands Minister Paul Telukluk emphasized.

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