Failure by past Governments to allocate fund to the site development programme has encouraged the spread of squatter settlements currently experienced in Honiara.

This revelation was made by the Minister of Lands, Rev. Leslie Boseto, to the Commission of inquiry into the April riot when he answered questions on the causes of the riot.

The Minister stated that the increase in squatter settlement is partly the cause of the problem. The Minister said one reason of the lack of controlled development, particularly within the Honiara boundaries, is the lack of funds in the Site Development Fund account operated by his department. Since there was no fund to properly develop sites for residences, the Land Commission has continued to invoke provisions in the Land and Titles Act to directly allocate plots to applicants.

Mr. Boseto said although the department of lands requested past government for funding for the operation of the Site development programme, responses by government continued to be negative.

It is understood that the balance for the site development fund at the time the government closed the account was around $2 million. Sources within the department of lands have revealed that the closure of the account was the result of the financial reform undertaken by the Ulufa'alu government to control government spending, thus having only one account.

When the account was closed there was no further site development to the proposed land development in Honiara. The last of any site development by the government through the Ministry of Lands was the Skyline land development. After that there was no further development.

Our source said the fund when in operation is a self-revolving fund, which means the department always recover it after using it to develop any site through rentals and premium payments by tenants who are successful through a transparent tender process.

Currently, with no fund in the account, the site development programme has been on halt and there is lack of controlled development on the outskirt of Honiara resulting in disorganized housing arrangements.