Land registration in Papua New Guinea: competing perspectives (Peter Larmour) Scarcity amidst plenty: the economics of land tenure in Papua New Guinea (Tim Curtin) Customary land tenure systems: resilient, appropriate and productive (Hartmut Holzknecht)
Papua New Guinea
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AbstractLike other post-colonial states, Papua New Guinea continues to grapple with issues pertaining to land. In addition to being an important source of group identity, in resource rich Papua New Guinea, land is an important source of economic prosperity. Vigorous debate however, has ensued over the relationship between customary land tenure systems and economic growth, with official land registration being proposed as a more economically viable alternative to local systems of land tenure. This discussion paper, based on a seminar at AusAID, provides an overview of perspectives on land registration, which as demonstrated by violent protests in 1995 and 2000 is a highly contentious issue in Papua New Guinea. Peter Larmour provides a brief theoretical introduction followed by a chronological overview of official thinking about land registration in Papua New Guinea, concluding with a practical consideration of the mechanics of registering land in the country. Tim Curtin and Hartmut Holzknecht then provide competing perspectives on land registration, with Curtin advocating the establishment of individual land ownership in Papua New Guinea in order to accelerate economic growth, a task for which he believes customary land tenure is ill equipped. Conversely, Holzknecht argues that customary land tenure systems are highly productive (drawing upon the example of a motivated and productive community in Morobe Province), and that in any case, the Melanesian socio-political context is likely to confound attempts at land reform.