Team to Investigate Lombok Land Sales

MATARAM

A central government team has arrived in Lombok to investigate claims that 13 offshore islands have been illegally sold to individual investors, including foreigners, for tourism development.

The Bali Times earlier reported that officials from the West Lombok government alleged that the ownership certificates for the islands were apparently issued in contravention of regulations by officers at the local branch of the National Land Agency (BPN).

Ownership of land by individual foreigners is forbidden in Indonesia, and on the government-owned islands off Lombok’s southwest peninsula a 1966 bylaw restricts individual holdings to five hectares and does not allow freehold ownership.

Two officials from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries flew into Mataram late last week to conduct a probe.

Ispan Junaidi of the West Lombok government told reporters last week that BPN had issued freehold title deeds for several of the islands, with individual owners – including Bali residents – identified as sole owners of whole islands in excess of the 5-hectare limit.  There are indications that some of the islands have been bought by foreigners.

“There is a possibility that the islets are owned by foreigners. If so, they might be using local nominees in order to secure a certificate,” he said.

A BPN spokesman has denied malpractice and corruption, but the agency has issued no explanation of why ownership certificates were issued for the restricted government land on the islands.

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