Landowners to get more

TLTB bosses told to step up, PM says admin fee being cut By JYOTI PRATIBHA Good news for iTaukei landowners around the country. Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs
23 Oct 2012 08:48

TLTB bosses told to step up, PM says admin fee being cut

Chief guest Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (right) chats with FSC chairman Abdul Khan as TLTB General Manager Alipate Qetaki looks on during the iTaukei Land Trust Board strategic planning workshop at Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa in Korolevu yesterday. Photo: WAISEA NASOKIA


Good news for iTaukei landowners around the country.
Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced that from January 1 next year, administrative fees charged by the iTaukei Land Trust Board will be reduced.
Currently, 15 per cent of all rent collected by the board is set aside by the TLTB as poundage for their operational and administrative cost.
Speaking at the TLTB’s Strategic Corporate Plan 2013 -2015 workshop, Commodore Bainimarama said: “Today, I can announce that the administrative fees charged by TLTB will be reduced by 2.5 per cent, effective from January 1, 2013. It is expected that these will be reduced a further 2.5 per cent later in the year, equalling an effective five per cent drop in 2013.
“This will mean more lease money in the hands of all landowners.”
From January 1 until June 30 next year the fee would be reduced by 2.5 per cent. A further 2.5 per cent will be reduced from July 1 for the second half of the year.
From 2014 only 10 per cent will be deducted by TLTB for poundage, meaning more money will be given to the landowners.
This will result in more than $800,000 to be given back to landowners every year, in addition to their normal lease money.
However, Commodore Bainimarama said landowners and lessees would also need to play their role.
“Landowners must make land available, and those who lease the land must make sure that they pay their rent on time.
“We cannot allow a vicious cycle to continue in which- landowners are reluctant to renew leases because they cannot extract their rents. And tenants are reluctant to pay rent because there is uncertainty.”
He told the TLTB management that they would also need to step up to the challenge.
“The database of landowners is woefully out of date and has not yet been fully computerised.
“In some areas there is a continuing lack of understanding of the mission of the TLTB and a lack of willingness to work to further the development of land usage in Fiji.
“The TLTB itself must improve its services and standards.
“As we turn our attention to developing a strategic plan for 2013 through to 2015, I would urge a more responsible attitude on the part of the employees of TLTB. We all know that in some areas we’ve fallen short of our obligation to our people to discharge our duties with the highest level of honesty and integrity.”

Word of caution to TLTB:
In light of recent reports of fraud involving TLTB staff, Commodore Bainimarama also stressed that such incidents would not be tolerated.
“We hear cases of abuse of office by TLTB staff out in the field. Cases of extortion, of making promises to lessees that the TLTB staff know they cannot or will not fulfil, of giving encouragement to landowners that they know is false, of depriving the very people they serve, the landowners, of their just dues.
“Staff members have recently been fired because they breached their fiduciary duty to the landowners. We will not tolerate laziness or incompetence and anyone who is corrupt will be found out and dealt with.”
Commodore Bainimarama said apart from corruption, “unresponsive and uncaring bureaucracy” must also be challenged.
“The TLTB must adhere to good corporate governance. And the TLTB must modernise.”
Commodore Bainimarama also stressed that now, all promotion within TLTB would be given on merit.
“You will be judged by current market and industry standards, not by who you know or how long you have been with the TLTB.
This is one the very basic reforms we are looking at to implement across Government bodies.  We want to put our best foot forward. We need to put ordinary people first. We don’t want to tie them up in red tape, delay services to them because of incompetence, or place unnecessary hurdles in their way.”

“As the largest landlord in Fiji, the TLTB has a huge amount of responsibility – responsibility to the land owners, who rely on honest and competent delivery of service and payment – responsibility to the tenants, who rely on advocacy to ensure security and sustainability and finally, responsibility to the Fijian people, who rely on the thoughtful and progressive allocation of land and an understanding of the economic and financial imperatives to support social projects and private sector investment that will grow our economy.”

GM welcomes
The general manager of TLTB Alipate Qetaki welcomed the announcement, adding that TLTB will now have to work harder on their budgets.
“I am glad that the  honourable PM made this announcement.  It is very good news for the iTaukei landowners as we approach the end of the year.
“What it entails is that currently, TLTB deducts 15 per cent from all the income collected to go to TLTB as poundage that is TLTB’s operational and expenditure cost in a particular year.
“That means that we will deny ourselves that amount so it goes to the landowners directly.
“If we take the figures from 2012, it means, we will be foregoing almost $800,000 per year. That will go to the landowners in addition to their normal rent.”

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