Inquiry failure

WITH the inquiry into special agriculture business leases (SABLs) increasingly hailed a costly failure, Northern province governor Gary Juffa is pressuring the O’Neill government to fast-track the bill to create an independent commission against corruption.
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Instead of tabling the interim findings into SABLs in parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill lamented that the inquiry did not produce a final report after 18 months.

According to The National, the SABL commission of inquiry is seeking another two months to complete the remaining 13 of the 16 terms of reference.

Attorney-General Kerenga Kua reportedly criticised the work of this commission's three senior lawyers and said the completed terms of reference were just on basic legal and administrative issues.

"The legal aspects are straight forward and does not cost K15 million with an established secretariat," Kua reportedly said.

The newspaper separately reported Juffa as saying the inquiry was another example of money being wasted.

He took the opportunity to lobby more for a new commission, the ICAC.

"I am a trained investigator and, having worked with Internal Revenue Commission and Customs for 17 years, I can say that an investigation process is not costly," Juffa reportedly said in parliament.

"I would like the proposed bill for ICAC to be fast-tracked."

SABLs were borne from amendments to the Forestry Act and fast-tracked forestry, road and agricultural developments in these special licence areas, which were awarded for lease periods of up to 99 years.

A lot of the criticism is based on how SABLs infringe upon landowner rights. They are often criticised as a land-grabbing policy.

While the forestry industry and ministry has received considerable blame, the separate departments of agriculture, works and lands also granted SABLs.

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