Less queues, more money: Papua New Guinea government land leases go online in ‘game-changing’ move

The Department of Land and Physical Planning is leading Papua New Guinea’s e-government revolution with the launch of the e-lands and go-lands platform this week, in a partnership between the department and fintech service provider, NiuPay.

Original Article: https://www.businessadvantagepng.com/less-queues-more-money-papua-new-guinea-government-land-leases-go-online-in-game-changing-move/

Businesses and individuals that lease government land are now able to pay their lease payments online.

Secretary of the Department of Land and Physical Planning, Benjamin Samson, tells Business Advantage PNG that this could mean a huge increase in much-needed government revenue.

‘We are expecting the revenue to double as we progress further, and even triple after that,’ says Samson. ‘Currently, manually, we have been collecting K27 million a year.

‘We are looking at closer to K250 million yet to be collected.’

‘We are looking at doubling that to K40 or K50 million and that is just annual revenue. We have information that dates back to 2013 or 2014, so if we are putting those arrears together. We are looking at closer to K250 million yet to be collected.’

The move will revolutionise and streamline the way the department collects revenue and administers land. NiuPay is providing the necessary IT infrastructure and moving those processes onto one online platform. This is managed completely by the department and empowers them to clean up decades of data that has been collected by various systems, pulling it into one place.

‘What it will mean is the average member of the public will never need to come into the department and stand in line for hours to get a basic question answered.’

The technological leap will also prove helpful to the issue of land reform, with Samson saying that the government is working on the issue of ‘how business in land has been conducted over the years’.

He points to the Strata Title Bill, which is almost ‘ironed out,’ and a series of process improvements to clear up which land is available for use.

It is also hoped it will bring some accountability to government and improve governance and reduce corruption in line with Prime Minister James Marape’s vision.

The move to e-government

NiuPay has form in this area after completing the website and e-visa payment system for the Immigration & Citizenship Authority (ICA) last year.  Director James Inglis says that the online visa take-up has been excellent but the difference with the lands scheme is how far-reaching it is.

‘Moving these systems online and changing the way the public interact with the Department of Lands is game-changing,’ Inglis says. ‘Some departments like ICA have dipped their toes in the water as part of their initial deployments of the NiuPay platform.

‘This served as an excellent proof of concept for what can be achieved, and whilst ICA are looking at what else the NiuPay platform can offer them, the DLPP deployment is the first to realise the full potential of the NiuPay platform, in that they will also be able to manage their client relationship through an online portal and give their customers a better way to interact with them.

‘We are really excited that we can go and collect all that money that is owed to the State.’

‘What it will mean is the average member of the public will never need to come into the department and stand in line for hours to get a basic question answered. The system handles absolutely everything.’

From pain to gain

Customer-facing wins aside, the first phase of the online migration will address the department’s revenue collection.

‘We are picking the department’s biggest pain point first and it is the inability to meaningfully collect revenue – and that has been heightened during COVID,’ Inglis says.

The system will also be secure, with NiuPay making sure all the information is supported by the latest in online protective measure.

As for Samson, he is keen to get phase one started: ‘We are really excited that we can go and collect all that money that is owed to the State.’