The recent announcement by new Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko in setting up a Fraud and Complaints section within the Department of Lands is possibly the best move made by any Lands Minister. For so long, Papua New Guineans have had frustrating experiences that for some, they have lost complete faith in the department.
Of course there are some honest and hard working officers within the Department but the general feeling among those who have dealings with the entity responsible for all land matters has been rather disappointing.
The move to set up a complaints section within the department gives hope to many citizens. And it hasn’t been long since the set-up that citizens are now heading to the Lands office to raise their complaints. One citizen Stephen Kilage has wasted little time in raising his complaint.
The complaints are expected to be wide ranging from serious fraud matters to the more administrative issues like delays in getting land titles processed and issued. It will certainly provide a more transparent look to a government body that has received so much criticism for fraudulent activities.
One commentator on social media has requested to the “action” Minister that land title details should be made available online much like the Investment Promotion Authority making available its companies register. Not only will this add to the transparency, it will make land title searches more efficient without the usual administrative hurdles many have had to put up with.
If you have had the chance to lodge a complaint using this new facility, we’d be happy to know how your complaint has been addressed and how quick they are in resolving it.
Here is the official media release on the Minister’s Facebook Page:
The Re-establishment of the Lands Fraud And Complaints Unit is another priority function that must deliver.
This is not a new concept to the Department, after its initial setup four(4) years ago.
This initiative and idea did not have the impact that it was initially intended for, and therefore resulted only in a backlog of complaints that were not fully addressed to this day.
Ultimately, the Lands Department, Management and Staff continued to be seen as a body that could not care less about doing the right thing.
In all fairness, there are qualified, hardworking and honest staff who want to ensure the right thing is done through the correct procedures for real progress.
There are individuals however, who continue to tarnish this good work, through illegal dealings.
Like the saying goes, ‘where there is smoke, there must be fire’.
The Fraud And Complaints Unit will ensure that all concerns and complaints are addressed, in our efforts to ultimately change the publics perception of the Department.
This unit will be proactive in the assessment and address of all issues and concerns raised regarding land and the people involved, both client and officer.
The composition of the Unit includes an Independent Lawyer, a representative of the Public Service Commission, Independent and experienced Officers.
While this Unit will remain an Independent body within the Department, it will work hand in hand with the Audit Section, and its existing system.
The last thing we want is for the Unit to be seen as a ‘witchhunt’, but rather as an initiative for Change.
Close Consultation with the Office of the Secretary, Senior Management and Staff is intended to hopefully bring better order to all divisions by their processes and procedures.
This will in-turn assure us of better Transparency and Accountability, and restore credibility in the Department.
In saying so, the existence of the Fraud And Complaints Unit however, is not intended to become a vindictive exercise whereby unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations, bordering on defamation, against officers or individuals will be willingly accepted and considered.
The Unit will officially open its doors on Monday September 4.
Picture – Officially Launching the Lands Fraud And Complaints Unit
Thursday August 31, 2017