NEWS

ANALYSIS: Direct Lease Money Payment Safe, Fair

The iTaukei Land Trust Board’s decision to deposit lease money share into landowners’ individual bank accounts is a major breakthrough in the history of TLTB’s cash distribution to landowning units.
10 Mar 2015 10:30
ANALYSIS: Direct Lease Money Payment Safe, Fair

The iTaukei Land Trust Board’s decision to deposit lease money share into landowners’ individual bank accounts is a major breakthrough in the history of TLTB’s cash distribution to landowning units.

The direct deposit of lease money into individual iTaukei landowner’s bank account is a significant development.

It will be welcomed by many landowners because it eliminates the landowners’ trustees’ committees, a level of bureaucracy that is fraught with high risks of abuse.

Some years ago the trustees committees were set up as an interim measure while work started to electronically connect the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) to the Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) or iTaukei Births and Death Registry.

When government introduced the distribution of equal lease money to landowners, TLTB wanted to pay individuals through their personal bank accounts.

But it could not do it because it didn’t have access to an electronic version of the VKB. Now it has.

The VKB has a comprehensive record of iTaukei in their respective mataqali (clan) and yavusa (tribe, a collection of clans). iTaukei are registered at birth by their parents and crossed off in red when they die.

The trustees are entrusted with the responsibility to administer lease money paid to it by TLBTB on behalf of the landowners.

The integrity of some of the trustees have been called to questions because of alleged abuse. The TLTB, the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and the iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission are aware of it.

Some landowners are not happy with some of the trustees because of the general lack of transparency and accountability. The issue of governance has been a major challenge to some of the committees. It has become an embarrassment to national iTaukei leaders who have worked tirelessly over the years to change the mentality and mindset of people. They have been trying to change the long-held perception and stereotype that cast doubt on the iTaukei credibility or integrity to manage projects that involve finance. The poor example of some of the trustees suggests that this malaise still exists in the iTaukei community. The trustees are appointed by the landowners so they are accountable to them. If they were accountable to higher authority, would they have performed better?

That is why the quicker the Government rolls in those reforms, the better it would become all around.

The trustees were informed and trained to operate under a set of rules designed to help them stay out of trouble.

But they will become history now. And landowners will have cause to celebrate, because the first lease money payment for those in Ba, Kadavu, Bua and Cakaudrove, will go into their individual bank accounts by the end of next month.

Landowners in these provinces are now connected electronically to a system that links the TLTB and Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) or Fijian Births and Deaths Registry. Payment is based on registration records.

Before the trustees were appointed, TLTB staff used to travel around Fiji and stopped at centres to distribute cash. A lot of cash was carried around. The practice had high security risks, was time consuming (four weeks to complete), and was out of kilter with the modern way of handling huge amounts of cash that run into millions of dollars.

The Turaga ni Yavusa (tribal chief) usually got 30 cents in every dollar. The rest was shared by tribal members. Payment was done every six months.

The Government has scrapped that system and formula and decided that the amount should be shared equally among individual landowners. Everyone registered under the VKB from infants to adults are eligible for payment. But first they must register with TLTB and they should provide their tin letter, birth certificate, ID and bank account number.

Misinformation on iTaukei land issues has distorted the truth. One question that was asked at the public consultation of iTaukei issues in Nausori Village last Friday was why iTaukei land was being transferred to the Land Bank. The general manager of the TLTB Alipate Qetaki, replied saying landowners would have to give their consent before it was transferred. One of problems was that landowners were divided. They needed to be united to make a sound decision.

It’s the same sort of problem that has plagued the landowners’ trustee committees.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

 




Subscribe to E-Edition
pacific island top up
Air Nuigini
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: