NEWS

Analysis: ‘Land Lies’ Exposed

SODELPA MP DULAKIVERATA CAUGHT OUT BY ACTING PM CLAIM: Any iTaukei land can be used by the Government and put in Land Bank. FACT: Consent must be given by at
19 May 2018 10:06
Analysis: ‘Land Lies’ Exposed
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum outside Parliament on May 18, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar

SODELPA MP DULAKIVERATA CAUGHT OUT BY ACTING PM

  • CLAIM: Any iTaukei land can be used by the Government and put in Land Bank.

FACT: Consent must be given by at least 60 per cent of the landowners before lease can be granted under Land Bank.

  • CLAIM: All leases issued under the Land

Bank shall be for a period of 99 years.

FACT: All leases issued should be for a period of less than 99 years. A lease can be 5 years, 30 years or even 50 years but not more than 99 years.

  • CLAIM: State is simply filling its pockets by using iTaukei land.

FACT: State does not receive a single cent.

100 per cent of lease money through Land Bank goes to the landowning unit.

 

Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday caught out SODELPA MP Jiosefa Dulakiverata on ‘land lies’.

iTaukei land was again the sub­ject of a heated debate in Parlia­ment.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Mr Du­lakiverata yesterday he lied when he spoke on Section 10 of the Land Use Decree.

Mr Dulakiverata stated that “all leases issued under its provisions shall be for a period of 99 years.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum expressed his outrage at the casual manner in which Mr Dulakiverata saw fit “to mislead” Parliament.

“Honourable Dulakiverata is be­ing intellectually dishonest. He has not cited all the sections of the Act. He has not cited the sections of the regulations. Madam Speaker, what else is there to say to this?

“He has misrepresented. He is im­plying that any iTaukei land can be used by the State to be put in the Land Bank. That is absolutely incorrect. There are regulations pertaining to the Land Use Act which quite clearly states that you must get consent from a minimum of 60 per cent of the members of the landowning unit. They have to consent to it.

“Section 11 says that it must be in the best interest of the landowners.

“Furthermore, Madam Speaker, it is absolutely nonsense to say that the State is simply filling its pock­ets by using iTaukei land. Abso­lutely nonsense. Not a single cent of the money made for lease goes to the State at all. 100 per cent of it goes entirely to the landowning unit.

“And, Madam Speaker, the Consti­tution stipulates that all land lease must be based on the market rates. He goes on about TLTB – for dec­ades they have not been giving the market rates. He (Mr Dulakivera­ta) says that Section 10 states that it can only be leased for 99 years. What nonsense! Section 10 states, and he should know this, he was in the Lands Department, Section 10 says ‘All leases issued under this Act shall be for a period of not more than 99 years.’ What does that mean? It can be leased for 50 years, it can leased for 30 years, it can be leased for five years. That is what has happened and in Bua, the leas­es that have been issued for mining have not been for 99 years.

“They have been for 20 years un­der the Land Bank.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also fired back that TLTB had been giving out land leases for 99 years for vari­ous leases ranging from residential to commercial but neither the Op­position nor Mr Dulakiverata had any issues with that.

“Instead they were misleading the Fijian people by focusing on the Land Bank,” he said.

“He is here, Madam Speaker, mis­representing to Parliament and to everybody in Fiji about what he has just said. TLTB has been issu­ing leases for 99 years. The Resorts that are built on iTaukei land, they are all on lease for 99 years. So, he is telling others that TLTB has not been issuing leases for 99 years.

“TLTB has been issuing leases for 99 years for residential purposes for Tacirua and other places, for commercial purposes for 99 years.”

He said the only ones they were not giving leases for 99 years were for political issues.

He cited agriculture leases, ALTA and NLTA. They only gave 30 years.

He linked this to the lack of large scale investment in agriculture “because you cannot use that land as collateral.”

“Which farmer would want to in­vest two or three million dollars if their leases would expire in 30 years’ time? Hoteliers- because they have 99-year leases and have security of tenure, they invest hundreds of millions of dollars as I have said in this Parliament be­fore.”

NFP’s Lenora and family’s personal benefits through

Land Bank:

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also hit out at National Federation Party provisional candidate Lenora Qereqeretabua for being critical of the Land Bank when her fam­ily had been direct beneficiaries of leasing land from the Land Bank for building a resort in Kadavu.

“One of the provisional candi­dates of NFP has been talking about this. For their family busi­ness- they came to us and said to us that TLTB was not giving them a new lease because of issues with the previous developers running away and that their landowning unit wanted the development to go ahead. Kokomo (Private Island Resort) in Yaakov, Cadaver… they came and I was with the Honoura­ble Prime Minister… we told them that their option is to go to the Land Bank as long as 60 per cent of the landowning unit agrees and they did. Today you have a $200mil­lion investment.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum stressed that unlike TLTB through which land­owners did not necessarily get mar­ket rentals, Land Bank reviewed the leases to ensure the landown­ers were not short-changed.

Land Bank leases have been is­sued to: one in Tailevu for natural water bottling company, two for commercial farming, one for quar­ry business, one six-star resort, and four lease holdings in the same area for 20 years. That’s the extent of what has been actually leased out through the Land Bank.

“They are saying it is some big land takeover! Please, don’t go and misrepresent to the members of the public and I hope they are watching this so they know when you go out to members of the pub­lic, what sort of credibility you have, which is zero. Zero! Because you come to this august house – Parliament and you completely misrepresented everything. You stood up there and said the leases under the Land Bank are only for 99 years. Nonsense!”

Mr Dulakiverata in his statement also paid tribute to Sir Arthur Gordon the first Governor of Fiji and Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, who he said had done more to protect the iTaukei.

A lesson in history:

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum gave Mr Du­lakiverata a quick lesson in his­tory and questioned him whether he and Opposition knew the entire history of Colonisers who made iTaukei fight iTaukei and of the bloodshed.

“Sir Arthur Gordon had this view because he got beaten up in New Zealand, he came from there – the Maori and Pakeha Wars! They (SO­DELPA) don’t talk about what hap­pened in Fiji when they (Colonis­ers) came here.

“Some people again glorify the Colonial Administration. Today we use the word Kai Colo as means of denigrating people – uncivilised people. How did it come about?! Do you know it? Do you know the his­tory?

“It was the people of Colo who resisted Colonisation so what did they do? They (Colonisers) estab­lished a native constabulary and brought in people from Vanua Levu and Eastern parts of Fiji to go and fight. iTaukei were fighting iTaukei and many of them were killed. And, as a result of that, it was put into our culture that anybody who did something like that- who resisted the Colonial control – we would denigrate them, we would call them Kai Colo. Not many peo­ple know this but this is the kind of history they need to know Madam Speaker and unfortunately as a re­sult of the misrepresentation, as a result of that way of thinking, we are in this position today.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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