Nonpayment of land rental dues to the government over the years by Fix Term Estate (FTE) title holders have accumulated to around $27 million.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands Stanley Wale yesterday revealed that according to the latest data update on the list of debtors on November 7, $27 million is still in the hands of FTE title holders.
“This is including those in the provinces,” Mr Wale said.
He said the outstanding arrears stood at some $33 million in January this year, but some paid up which reduced the arrears to $27 m.
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary slammed the Opposition Leader Dr Derek Sikua for the quick political ambush made against the ministry for failing to publish the list on Wednesday this week as was promised.
He said these things have processes and should not be picked on to politicise.
“Firstly in response to the opposition leader’s statement yesterday on our failure to publish the list on Wednesday as promised, I would like to make it clear that we have nothing to hide.
“In fact, last week, I promised that by Wednesday this week, we should publish the list in the Solomon Star newspaper because we have already secured funds, but two things delayed the planned publication.
“The funds have processes to follow which was not under our control. Another cause of the delay was we tried to finalise the list best updated list because a few more people paid up.”
Mr Wale said the list published now is the most up to date list produced by the Ministry.
“It was updated on November 7, it is the latest so we believe it should be accurate.”
The permanent secretary said their data is another issue.
“It is unreliable at times thus we need to make sure accurate information is released.”
He said it is the Ministry’s duty to make sure people pay up their rental arrears but not to enter into any political debate on the matter.
“But it is good that the opposition leader jump all over the place with this issue because it prompted a lot of people to pay up their dues in recent weeks.”
He said the Ministry is doing its duty without favour as claimed by the opposition and maintained that at no time did they receive any orders from the Prime Minister to remove or add any names to the list.
By Ednal R. Palmer
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