Lease Blessing, Landowners Prefer FijiFirst Equal Cash Distribution Model

The equal dis­tribution of lease money among landowning units introduced by the FijiFirst Government has been a blessing for the iTaukei community, says the iTaukei Lands Trust Board. TLTB general
06 Nov 2018 18:24
Lease Blessing, Landowners Prefer FijiFirst Equal Cash Distribution Model
TLTB General Manager, Tevita Kuruvakadua.

The equal dis­tribution of lease money among landowning units introduced by the FijiFirst Government has been a blessing for the iTaukei community, says the iTaukei Lands Trust Board.

TLTB general manager Tevita Kuruvakadua says there has been much support among landowners for the new system because, among other things, it has brought about gender equality.

He made the comments after sev­eral landowners expressed support for the new lease distribution sys­tem.

62-year-old Sela Ratu, Turaga Ni Mataqali (landowning unit leader) at Tawa, Naseyani Village in Ra said: “Under the FijiFirst Govern­ment the lease money is equally distributed which is a good thing.”

Previously, he said, the children used to suffer, but the new lease dis­tribution was good for their educa­tion

“This enables them to further their education to university level,” he said.

Mataqali Nawavatu landowner of Kalabu Josaia Drole said equal lease distribution was good, but it was up to the individuals on how to wisely use their share.

37-year-old Seru Bilivanua of the Naulu­karoa clan in Kalabu said their money was in trust and they used it for their business.

The comments come as Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has repeatedly remarked on the campaign trail ahead of next week’s general election that he intends to revert the lease distribution system to the old way of heads of clans and tribes taking the lion’s share of payouts if his party is voted into govern­ment.

Mr Kuruvakadua said since July 2015 TLTB had already distributed a total of $174m to an average of 51,366 individual members (over 18 years) of various landowning units (ya­vusa, mataqali and tokatoka) .

He said in addition TLTB invested $32.5m for 39,834 landowning unit (LOU) members below 18 years (minors) in various invest­ment institutions.

“These funds will be with the institutions and will be released to them once they turn 18 years,” Mr Kuruvakadua said.

“Out of the 39,834 under 18 minors’ ac­counts, 20,812 are male members and 19,022 are female members.”

The TLTB general manager said this invest­ed minor funds were an important source of funds for minors to empower them to start up new opportunities when they turn 18 – either to further their studies or to start up a new business or to expand to other available op­portunities that require seed funds to further their dreams in life.

This, he said, would relieve a lot of burdens for parents and guardians because there was something in store for minors when they turned 18.

Apart from this, Mr Kuruvakadua said, the equal lease distribution option introduced by this Government in 2011, which was effec­tively implemented in 2015. had been a bless­ing for the iTaukei Community in a number of ways.

These were:

  • It has taken away a lot of LOU dis­putes among mataqali members. Previously there used to be a lot of complaints and dis­putes, this has dramatically improved after the introduction of this lease distribution mode;
  • It has strengthened the leadership within the landowning unit (LOU) for them to encourage their members to become more visionary and to spend their monies wisely. Now the parents are beginning to see fair distribution of lease monies and are en­couraging their children and members (in particular the minors) to plan for their fu­ture;
  • This has also encouraged a cul­ture of savings and investments with the iTaukei communities where the distribu­tion mode encourages the need for iTaukei individuals to think along those lines, rather than the previous culture of spend­ing it all;
  • It has solved a lot of fairness in treating female LOU members with digni­ty and respect. Most female LOU members have praised this equal distribution mode because this is the first time most of them are receiving lease monies. Some of them by virtue of their status of being LOU members and landowners have never had a share of lease monies in their lifetime and with this mode some say it has really worked well for them and shows that their status as females and being mothers in a family are respected;
  • It has also promoted gender equality;
  • The introduction of this equal distribution mode has also led to the dig­itising of the Vola ni Kawa Bula that has brought about efficiencies in accessing this information to all iTaukei institutions and fast tracked a lot of services;
  • It has also enabled leaders within the LOU and parents for all families receiv­ing their lease monies to think more stra­tegically and commercially to guide and empower their LOU members to think dif­ferently;
  • The TLTB anticipates a lot of positive vibes and impact to most iTaukei families in the years to come because most children when they turn 18 years will be able to further their education in higher institutions, which will lead to a more edu­cated iTaukei generation;
  • The TLTB anticipates that once this process matures more iTaukei will be engaged in small micro businesses to add to other small micro business grants from Government to pursue their various busi­ness ventures and become entrepreneurs for a better living;
  • It has also improved on cleaning up the Vola ni Kawa Bula – registering the unregistered LOU members and also delet­ing LOU members that have passed on so that they all get access to lease monies; and

Meanwhile, the implementation phase Mr Kuruvakadua said had been delayed because of the enhancement of the TLTB IT systems and the digitisation of the Vola ni Kawa Bula through the iTaukei Lands Commission.

Edited by Epineri Vula


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