Ministry issues stern warning those who don't follow PUMA laws

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) Chief Executive Officer Ulu Bismark Crawley has warned that no one can bypass the regulatory process overseen by their Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA).

The CEO said a development consent permit – which is issued by the PUMA to anyone who plans to build a structure – is applicable to everyone including members of the public, Government officials and politicians. 

“The development consent (permit) issued for any development applies to everyone. The Government ministries also apply for development consent permits for their projects and so should everyone.

"No one is above the law and there are also clauses under this Act that levels penalties if one does not obey the law,” he said in an interview with Samoa Observer. 

He said all development consent forms submitted to the PUMA is deliberated on by the Land Board before it makes a decision. 

“And that PUMA laws assures that your development does not have an impact on others. You want to build something or dig a hole – one must retain a development consent permit – that is the process. While it is your land, but you must consider the impact your development will have on others. Do you want to live in a  community or by yourself, this is the whole process and that your actions impact on the other person. 

Ulu said the PUMA process was established not to hinder development in Samoa, but to provide a safe guard for everyone including individuals, who live within the vicinity of the proposed project. 

"It is not to hinder development but to provide a safe guard, and to make sure the development is safe for you as well, even if it means we must protect you from yourself we will do it that is the whole purpose of this law. So it is true, you can’t really enjoy your own private land? It depends how you see it, but the role of PUMA is to make sure safety is paramount. Our role is to make sure that what you are building is safe for you and others around you." 

PUMA, which is governed by the Planning and Urban Management Agency Act – was created to prepare strategic urban planning tools such as planning provisions, plans, and development standards; development consent and compliance of development activity; environmental impact control and compliance, and established the planning tribunal and also provided enforcement provisions.

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