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Vuniwaqa Explains iTaukei Lands And iQoliqoli

While Government encourages investments in Fiji, it also wants to ensure that traditional landowners fully understand lease arrangements before they finalised on it. This was highlighted by the Minister for
28 May 2015 07:53
Vuniwaqa Explains iTaukei Lands And iQoliqoli

While Government encourages investments in Fiji, it also wants to ensure that traditional landowners fully understand lease arrangements before they finalised on it.

This was highlighted by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, during a consultation session with owners of traditional fishing grounds or iqoliqoli owners in the province of Cakaudrove.

During the talks in Cakaudrove she explained the difference between iTaukei land and  iqoliqoli.

iTaukei land is owned by the iTaukei people that means they own the land and the rent goes to them if it is on lease. That’s why goodwill has been stopped over and above the rent,” the minister said.

“For iqoliqoli or fishing rights Government owns it but the landowners don’t get the rent. The rent from the iqoliqoli or fishing rights goes to Government. That is the difference and that is why we stopped goodwill payment in relation to land because they are getting rent,” she said.

The minister highlighted that goodwill for iTaukei land is not encouraged by Government because there was no basis for it since the landowners get rent payment because they own the land.

“Goodwill is something you pay over and above the land rent,” Mrs Vuniwaqa said.

She noted the department are the ones that determine the amount of compensation payable for the loss of fisheries rights.

“We don’t know what they have agreed to when they gave up their rights so when they get stuck like the case in Wavi Island they come running to us,” she said.

“It is very important that they consult us and follow the proper procedures of giving out a lease.”

She reiterated that there was a need for them to change the way they operated.

“We are stressing that it’s an important part of our role is to involve ourselves with the consultations that happen between the developer and the fisheries right holders.

“In the case of Wavi Island I will have to assume that it was given because it has been given for a while. The Waivunia people at Cakaudrove own a freehold lot on the other side of Wavi Island, which was bought by Government for them and they have paid Government back.

“What Wavi Island has is a 30-metre lease from the island out on all sides which they hold. Now it wants to lease the entire sea but there is a conflict. The Waivunia people want it to do this fisheries hatchery.

“Because Waivunia people own the land that is one of the policy issues we look at if you own the land, then you will get the lease for the foreshore if you apply for it.

“Waivunia people cannot be owning the land than we get somebody else to own the foreshore because then it becomes an access issue. We will visit Wavi island owner to see the extent of digging through the canal and other places.”

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

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