Palau Public Land Authority (PPLA) has issued 83 land leases in 4 States, Airai, Koror, Ngarchelong and Ngchesar. Out of 83, 77 are residential leases and 6 are commercial leases. Senate bill 11-11 proposes to remove national government’s authority to lease or sell public lands and to mandate PPLA to transfer public lands that are not being used by the national government to the state governments’ land authorities within a certain period of time.
Under the proposed bill, PPLA will no longer be able to sell, lease or exchange public lands, it will only be able to “use or dedicate for public purposes” such lands.
The bill further states that once PPLA turns over land to state public land authority, it can not limit or withdraw that power. State land authorities will be required only to provide copies of land leases they execute to PPLA “for record keeping purposes”.
In addition, the bill repeals the authority under 35 PNC Chapter 7 which gives the President authority to execute leases and land use agreements of public land to Palauan citizens or wholly-owned Palauan corporations.
Similar bill was introduced in the 10th government, passed both House and Senate and submitted to then President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. Former president had returned the bill with PD1 version which made return of unused public lands “permissive” rather than mandatory obligation of PPLA. It also returned the proposed repeal of 35 PNC Chapter 7. The transmittal letter cited that Palau was still developing, that in the coming years will need to develop roads, housing developments, airport renovations, airfield improvements, hospitals and other public infrastructures and that it was “somewhat premature to surrender all national public lands that are not “currently in use” especially in the aggressive fashion.”
Senate Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Affairs recommended in its report findings that this bill will “empower the individual states, through their duly constituted public lands authorities, to take control over the development and management of the public lands within their borders.”
Under the current laws, both states PLAs and PPLA have authorities to lease, manage, sell and administer public lands. Overlapping authorities have created conflicts between PPLA and states public lands authorities leaving people confused and distrusting of both public entities created for public good.
The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Umiich Sengebau, Jonathan Isechal, Stevenson Kuartei, Kazuki Topps Sungino and Andrew Tabelual.

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