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SODELPA Opposition MPs Criticised Over Land Bank Motion

SODELPA Opposition MPs Criticised Over Land Bank Motion
Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar and Opposition MP Salote Radrodro at Parliament on July 14, 2017.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.
July 15
12:59 2017

Landowners would have missed out on millions of dollars if an Opposition SODELPA motion was passed in Par­liament.

The statement was made by Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the motion moved by Niko Nawaikula and supported by Viliame Gavoka.

The motion was against Land Bank invest­ment and millions of dollars set aside for iTaukei landowners to develop their land.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said had the motion been passed, landowners in Yako and Le­galega in Nadi would have missed out from the millions of dollars they were set to make from Government investment in their land.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum argued passionately on behalf of the iTaukei landowners and drove home the point how, with such assistance, the landowners are in a better position to get premium returns on the investment which Government is making on their behalf.

By asking to kill off the Land Bank Invest­ment, the Opposition Member of Parlia­ment, Mr Nawaikula, was denying the rights of landowners to gain more money from it, he argued.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “… borrowing the Honourable Opposition Member’s words, what they are saying is utter hogwash.”

Both SODELPA Opposition MPs argued that landowners did not want land bank. They however, did not provide any evidence to back their utterances.

What is happening in Yako and Legalega

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum informed the House that 77 new residential lots would soon be developed in Legalega and 25 top-end resi­dential lots would be developed in Yako, both in Nadi.

The landowners in Yako are set to make mil­lions of dollars upon completion of the flats.

He explained that the Opposition was ob­sessed with the Land Bank and in their ob­session, they were not willing to see what the landowners were set to achieve and the money they were set set to make from the Land Bank investments.

“I really wish and I hope and I pray that the people who own the land in Legalega and Yako (Nadi) are actually watching this ses­sion now.

“Because this money, specifically, for ex­ample $700,000, is going towards helping the people of Yako to develop 25 top end residen­tial lots and guess what, the land still belongs to them,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum remarked in sheer frustration.

Moreover, when they sell these leases a 100 per cent of the premium and the lease money would go only to the land owners.

“And guess what the Government doesn’t take a single cent and the land still belongs to them (landowners).”

This was actually helping them develop their land, he added.

Had the same land been leased through the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB), ten per cent of the earnings would have been taken away by TLTB for their administrative costs.

The Ministry of Lands does not do this. They do not take a single cent from landown­ers for leasing land in the land bank.

He added that TLTB would not be able to develop the lands as Government could, through the Ministry of Lands.

$1.8 million has been set aside for the devel­opment of residential lots in Legalega.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, said Mr Nawaikula’s statement was completely misleading.

“This Land Bank Investment is helping the landowners invest in their land, so they can get the maximum return from it.

“In the same way, the Honourable Prime Minister recently went for the ground break­ing ceremony for the four land subdivisions namely: Yadua, Saweni, Wairabetia and Vuda.

“Soon there is going to be another subdivi­sion in Tailevu.

“I really hope that the people of Legalega and Yako are watching to know that this group of people, who always fall into this ethnic stuff, claim to be representing iTaukei people are actually denying them the right to gain more money from it.”

The motion was defeated in Parliament.

The residential lots development is two pronged. It empowers landowners to develop their land while at the same time it is geared towards meeting the demand for housing around the country.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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