Statement on Natural Resources,
Agriculture, Land and Forestry
Your Excellency Chairman Senior Minister,
Allow me the following remarks on behalf of development partners:
1. Development partners note the establishment of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes (NARLD) this February, as well as the creation in May of an interministerial task force to examine cases outside the jurisdiction of NARLD.
Could the Royal Government provide a clear explanation on the jurisdiction and work of the NARLD and the interministerial task force and on the Cadastral Commission, the courts and the commune councils, and any other official bodies engaged in resolving land disputes?
2. We note
a) efforts by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) to create the legal framework for the registration of all state land and to retake illegally privatised state land,
b) that the Prime Minister issued an order in May on retaking illegally privatised state forest land.
Could a report be provided on the Government’s efforts to establish the locations of forests under its jurisdiction and to retake illegally privatised state forest land? We are particularly concerned that due consideration is given to the poor when implementing the Prime Ministers order and Subdecree 53 “on Procedure for Establishment, Classification and Registration of Permanent Forest Reserve”.
In general we believe that there is a need for a transparent overall long term national planning and policy framework to support forest sector development. We also believe that improvement of cooperation between MLMUPC and Forest Administration is needed.
3. We note that the Ministry of Interior and MLMUPC are jointly developing an approach to granting legal recognition to individual indigenous communities, as a step in the governments plan to title indigenous land. In reality, however, the situation of indigenous people with respect to their lands remains a great challenge. Almost daily reports on illegal land grabbing and encroachment underscore the urgency of this challenge. We strongly urge the government to be especially vigorous in retaking illegally privatised lands in regions where indigenous people live, and to take all necessary measures to prevent further land grabbing.
4. The Subdecrec on Economic Land Concessions was passed in December of last year, but we understand that 7 months later it is still not being implemented. Has the Technical Secretariat been created and started its work? Have any ELCs been issued since adoption of the sub decree and if so, have they been granted according to the procedures in the Subdecree? Development partners again draw the Royal Government’s attention to the removal from the draft Subdecree of a requirement for a prakas that would include articles on public participation and public disclosure of information on ELCs, and continue to seek Government’s assurance that such prakas will he issued quickly.
Some disclosure has been made regarding ELCs, mining concessions and fishing lots. However, information provided on ELCs by the Government has been incomplete, especially in respect of exact coordinates. No disclosure has been made by Ministry of Defense regarding land under its jurisdiction.
We observe with concern that the conversion of forest estate is taking place on an accelerating scale partly due to forest land being converted into economic land concessions.
We note that there are regular complaints from local administrations and others about the difficulty in obtaining maps and aerial photos from MLMUPC. Development partners request a significant speed up in the process of providing materials upon request.
5. Development partners and government officials have been working together through the Technical Working Group on Agriculture and Water to develop a comprehensive Agriculture and Water Resources Strategy and Program framework. Development partners have sometimes needed to seek more consistent commitment from the technical staff of MAFF and MOWRAM to ensure that the strategy and program framework truly reflect RCG priorities and have Ministry ownership. Nevertheless, at this stage the TWGAW believes that this work can be completed by the end of 2006 target date if there is strong leadership and input by Government members of the TWGAW.