BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
LAND is seen as difficult and risky business in Solomon Islands for both commercial and residential purposes.
Corruption is considered rife and business owners often end up losing more in land dealings, said Acting Commissioner of Lands and Chief Technical Adviser for the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey / Pacific Community (SPC) Mr Alan McNeil.
He said land dealings are frequently subjected to dispute – “only when someone wants to purchase and develop it and therefore it is worth something”.
McNeil said almost 80 percent of land area in Solomon Islands is not registered thus legal land title cannot be obtained.
He said in Solomon Islands, people approach the Ministry of Lands to find cheap available land, while in Australia, people don’t go to the government, they go to private Real Estate agents.
He added that when government is involved in land allocations, it opens the door to corruption as people compete for land and for priority.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Lands (Urban) Lizzie Tegu added that things are changing with the development of a database to better track land dealings.
Apart from that, there is ongoing work into digitising the land register, she says.
She adds that changes have been taking place in the Lands Ministry where in 2014, a Land Board was introduced to take over all decision-making for allocation of government land in Solomon Islands.
This means the Commissioner of Lands no longer has the power to make decisions on land.
McNeil and Tegu revealed these while presenting at the Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum held last month in Brisbane.
The Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum, hosted by the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council in partnership with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, brings together senior Australian and Solomon Islands business and government representatives to hear and discuss information on current issues relating to doing business in the Solomon Islands.