NATION

$25 Million In Lease For State Land

Lessees owe the Government about $25 million in rentals. This has been revealed by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Ashneel Sudhakar, who says the rental arrears have been
10 Jan 2019 10:00
$25 Million In Lease For State Land
Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Ashneel Sudhakar at his office in Suva on January 9, 2019.

Lessees owe the Government about $25 million in rentals.

This has been revealed by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Ashneel Sudhakar, who says the rental arrears have been allowed to accumulate over the years.

He says this is a concern for the ministry.

Mr Sudhakar said under every lease issued there was a condition that every five years the rental for the lease would be reassessed.

“People have to check with the Lands Department if there is any increment or reduction after every five years of their lease,” he said.

“People do not adhere to the rental payment condition, which is putting a lot of pressure on the Lands Department because if people do not pay the rental then how can we develop other lands?

“Government finances are being affected.”

Mr Sudhakar said that were many requests for waivers or write-offs of rental arrears, but such arrears could not be waived or written off.

“We would rather re-enter the lease and issue it for its purposes,” he said.

“The ministry has to issue permission for any changes made to the lease. If it does not, it is a serious breach of lease conditions.”

Mr Sudhakar said the ministry found that once people acquired the leases, they illegally subdivided and built houses on that land without proper application and zoning and did not follow rules and the law.

He said years later once people built houses on leased land the ministry often found it difficult to evict them.

“You will not find informal settlements in cities overseas because their plans are well designed. But in Fiji, probably because the lack of resources, lack of understanding and adherence to the law, people do not comply with the land use required by the lease, which is causing a lot of economic problems,” Mr Sudhakar said.

“There is a policy now that the Sugar Industry Tribunal will not issue permissions to convert sugarcane land into residential or other purposes because we have to save the sugar industry as well.

“We will hold consultations in the Western and Northern divisions to educate people on the land leases and issues faced.

“We are considering putting in special conditions for leases, for example if a lease is issued and the person is not going to use it for that purpose, we can cancel the lease and re-enter the lease so the purpose of the State lands can be fulfilled,” Mr Sudhakar said.

Edited by Epineri Vula



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper