There is an increasing concern that land transactions in Papua New Guinea are perceived by some landowners and key government officials as unsustainable due to inequitable sharing of benefits among the tripartite stakeholders. This paper investigates issues surrounding the perceived inequality of benefits derived from land transactions in forestry, mining, oil and gas projects in the South Pacific country using contiguous Western and Hela Provinces as case study. With regards to the land leasing practices of indigenous customary landowners, the paper adopts stratified random sampling to collect primary data from a representative sample of 180 indigenous landowners, state land officials and project operators in the two provinces. One research question and one overarching hypothesis are used to probe whether forestry and mining land transactions and profits sharing in the projects’ areas are sustainable. Based on a chi square value of 2.133 and a p-value of 0.85% that are statistically significant at 0.01 levels, the paper accepts the hypothesis, which strongly suggests that land transactions and profits sharing in the two contiguous provinces are sustainable, contrary to criticisms. Since PNG’s 22 provinces are largely homogeneous in terms of common land tenure, local Melanesian culture and languages spoken, it is contended that land transactions are consistent with PNG’s national land policy. Results also suggest that project stakeholders in the country are consistently adopting land transactions that are convenient and sustainable. The paper, therefore, calls for government intervention to streamline national land transactions for consistency and sustainability under a common national land policy.
Key words: land transactions; sustainable benefits sharing; PNG land policy; forestry; extractive projects; Western; Hela; provinces.
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