Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Vanuatu Lands Department Staff Leases Probed
Public servants allegedly used positions to acquire land

By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 26, 2013) – Vanuatu Department of Lands staff who allocated themselves leases on state owned land in Port Vila and Luganville on the instructions of former Lands Minister MP Steven Kalsakau are now being investigated.

Prime Minister’s spokesman Jeff Patunvanu told Daily Post Thursday the Public Service Commission is investigating the government workers after it was alleged that the civil servants used their public office to acquire land in the urban areas.

Before national elections last year Daily Post received a leaked document from the previous Minister of Land, Mr. Kalsakau, ordering members of the Lands Department to identify empty plots of land in Luganville and Port Vila and pay only 50 percent of the total value of the land.

The lands in towns have never been advertised for sale and are being used for green space.

Only the Department of Lands staff have records of the public land and according to the leaked letter of the Minister of Lands it was the staff of the Lands Department that demanded the plot of lands.

This was in contrary to the overwhelming decision of the council of ministers in 2010 which suspended the sale of state land.

About 40 staff of the Department of Lands provided themselves with leases of state owned land are now being investigated by the Public Service Commission.

Meanwhile the Director of Lands, Mr. Jean Marc Pierre has refuted claims made by the government that the former State House and residence at Joint Court has been sold.

"The state owned property has never been sold but the vacant plots of land around the former State House is being taken by the Department of Lands staff," Mr. Pierre told the Daily Post after producing a land map of the area.

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