THE country now has a new Commissioner of Lands within the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey after more than two years.
He is Alan McNeil who formally received his appointment contract effective 17th September 2020.
He will look after the office for the next three years.
Mr. McNeil originally from Scotland, United Kingdom (UK) took his oath of allegiance last Thursday before Governor-General Sir David Vunagi during a swearing-in ceremony held at the Government House.
He has been the acting commissioner for the past two years and two months.
In an interview with the paper yesterday, Mr. McNeil expressed excitement with the appointment and for the trust and confidence, the government had in him.
With the latest appointment, Mr. McNeil who has 70 staff to look after said it takes time to implement the changes that are necessary for the ministry.
He outlined some of the actions to be pursued during his term in office.
“Importantly, putting a total halt on all fraudulent land dealings, and to get on top of the backlog of files.
“In the longer term it is about making necessary changes to the laws to close off any potential loopholes and building capacity of other ministry staff to continue to reform the processing of land dealings,” he said.
However, he said the appointment comes with challenges and that is having the time to do everything that needs to be done.
“Trying to change the generally held attitude that anyone can apply for any land held in the name of the Commissioner of Lands at any time, as if it is all up for grabs to the first one who finds out about it,” he said.
McNeil who first arrived in the country in October 2004 came under a Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) assignment.
In the late 1990s, he spent two years in Papua New Guinea (PNG) doing physical planning work.
But the job of doing physical planning work for the Guadalcanal Provincial Government straight after the ethnic tension really interested him, he said.
McNeil’s work experience includes;
– 2003/2004: Planning consultancy in Camberwell, Melbourne;
– 2004/2006: Guadalcanal Provincial Government as a physical planning adviser;
– 2006/2007: Honiara City Council as a physical planning adviser;
– 2007/2013: Norfolk Island Administration as the Manager, Land Use & Environment;
– 2014 onwards: Chief Technical Adviser at the Ministry of Lands, Housing & Survey.
His qualification includes;
– Associate Diploma in Survey Drafting, Sydney Institute of TAFE;
– Certificate in Land Title Searching, Sydney Institute of TAFE;
– Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of New England, NSW; and
– Master of Social Science (International Development), RMIT University, Victoria.
Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Public Service Nego Sisiolo yesterday confirmed McNeil’s appointment.
“I can confirm that Mr. McNeil was appointed on Contract by the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the Commissioner of Lands.
“His contract is for a period of 3 years effective 17 September 2020,” Mr. Sisiolo said.
He said the recommendation leading to his eventual appointment was supported by the government through the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Survey because of the outstanding work performance by Mr. McNeil in improving land administration.
Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Natalina Hong on behalf of the SICCI Board and its members congratulated Mr. McNeil on his official appointment.
“With his qualification and extensive work experience, we believe Mr. McNeil is the right person for this key position that holds the interest in Land for and on behalf of Government and deals in land subject to the directions of the Land Board.
“SICCI and our members will continue to support the Commissioner of Lands and we wish Mr. McNeil and his team excellence on this important leadership role,” Ms. Hong said.
Members of the public also expressed their gratitude over McNeil’s appointment through social media.
Many described him as the right man for the job.
By MOFFAT MAMU