Customary land issue must be solved for development to occur

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BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE

A major issue that hinders many of government development projects and private sector initiatives is the inability to obtain land whether by purchase or leasehold.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that enhancement is needed in policy changes and land reform efforts so land is not an obstacle to development and land owners can share benefits of development.

This is expressed in the Solomon Islands Economic Development Documents –Medium Term Development Plan, 2016-2020, IMF Country Report.

IMF stated that while there is a lot of unproductive and unused land in both urban and rural areas including customary land which could be more productively used, customary land reform remains an issue the government is still trying to solve.

The report adds that analysis is being conducted to find out how land owned by land owners can be utilized by the private sector, government, donors and others as well as how it can be sold, leased or occupied through proper, transparent and appropriate prices and possible regulations and the processes of land agreement applicable to various communities in the provinces.

IMF stressed that although current approaches and policies will not bring solutions to all problems they will assist in developing appropriate land valuation and land market prices.

Also mentioned is that an equally pressing problem is the availability of land for housing.

IMF noted that there are three projects and programs to address issues relating to urban and semi-urban land management, governance, planning and development, increasing availability of land, improving institutional and legislative capacity, and the planning process.

The three projects are Solomon Islands Urban Management Programme (SUMP) Land Development, Preparation & Construction Programme (LDPCP) and Lands – Institutional & Capacity Strengthening Programme (ICBSP).

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