MOU facilitates Cooperation between Catholic Church and Lands Department.
"The importance of the agreement is to allow the Catholic Church and Lands Department to work together to see to the productive use of the land,”
These were the words of Mr Douglas Tennent responding to a series of questions after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) April 21 at CBC Headquarters Port Moresby.
The Lands and Legal Consultant of the Catholic Bishops Conference Douglas Tennent said that the agreement is to facilitate the relationship and arrangements concerning land issues between the Catholic Bishops Conference and the Department of Lands through the Minister of Lands Hon. John Rosso.
“Now at the moment there are many things blocking the productive use; difficult land owners, political interference and issues with manipulating titles, clear example of this is people being able to obtain fraudulent titles in the Land Department,” he said.
The MOU is not making an overnight miracle, this is trying to help us to work together, It is to facilitate cooperation,” stressed Tennent.
He said that working co-operatively will hopefully mean that; firstly, we can get a lot more titles to free up the land for use. Secondly, there is a lot of land on the border of the towns which needs to be used for residential or commercial.
It is acknowledged that a good deal of the Freehold land owned by the Catholic Church is lying idle.
Mr Tenennt said that some of the land, the Church will develop itself, some of the land it will transfer to Government and some to groups for commercial development. It will be over to each Diocese to facilitate the transfers through their own negotiations. The memorandum provides a framework of cooperation between the Department of Lands and the Catholic Church.
“The important thing is the Church maintains the title of the land to allow us to do it. So when we hand it over, it is us handing it over”, Tennent noted.
Regarding State Church partnership, this MOU is specific regarding the Catholic Church’s Freehold land in Momase and New Guinea Islands and in the Highlands with issues of State – Lease land.
The Catholic Church committed to the National Goals and Directive Principles as set out in the Constitution of Papua New Guinea commits itself to ensuring the development of the land to advance national interests and residential and commercial interests in PNG.
Mindful of its social obligations the Catholic Church therefore agrees to ensure that some of the land is returned to local people and that some of the land is used for welfare, health and educational work.