NATION

TLTB Outlines The Truth About Bill No. 17

The Board pointed out that the Bill has come under false and inflammatory by Members of Parliament including Lynda Tabuya, Bill Gavoka, and others.
25 Jul 2021 22:24
TLTB Outlines The Truth About Bill No. 17

The iTaukei Land Trust Board has issued a statement regarding Bill No. 17 – a proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940.

The Board pointed out that the Bill has come under false and inflammatory attacks by Members of Parliament including Lynda Tabuya, Bill Gavoka, and others.

“Based on the quality of their contributions, we are deeply concerned they have not read Bill No. 17 at all,” the statement said.

Bill No. 17 proposes that consent of the TLTB is no longer required for any mortgage, charge, pledge, or caveat, as well as development, like water and electricity access, on registered leases which are properly issued by the TLTB. This applies for leases initiated with the AGREEMENT of landowning communities.

The Bill does NOT take away land from landowners, it upholds ALL constitutional protections.

The Bill does NOT lower the value of iTaukei land, it raises it.

The Bill does NOT reduce lease payments to landowners, it increases them.

We welcome public interest in the administrative workings of the TLTB, but those discussions must always be based on truth!

Here are the false claims made by MPs and the facts outlined by TLTB

FALSE CLAIM: MP Tabuya claims that iTaukei landowners will no longer have a say over their land if Bill No. 17 is passed.

THE TRUTH: iTaukei land ownership is secure and safe. The Board’s mandate under section 4 of the iTaukei  Land Trust Act 1940 to administer land for the benefit of the iTaukei landowners remains intact. Before dealing with iTaukei land, whether within reserve or outside of reserve, the Board is STILL REQUIRED to consult with the iTaukei landowners as required under section 9.

When dealing with the de-reservation of iTaukei land, the Board is still required to obtain the majority consent of the iTaukei landowners as required under section 17 of the said Act. Bill No. 17 will not take away the ability of the iTaukei landowners to determine what happens on their land. It is their land and their decision.

FACT: The security and ownership of iTaukei land is guaranteed under the 2013 Fijian Constitution. In keeping with the protection afforded by the Constitution, Bill No. 17 does NOT in any way remove from the iTaukei landowners’ ownership over iTaukei land.

 

FALSE CLAIM: MP Tabuya claims iTaukei landowners might not be able to enjoy the same amount of money they are

receiving right now after Bill No. 17 is passed.

THE TRUTH: Landowners will continue to receive FULL rents and premiums under leases of iTaukei land. In fact, these rents and premiums are likely to increase.

The amount of money received by landowners or which they will continue to receive under leases of iTaukei land are therefore NOT affected by the removal of the consent requirement to mortgages, charges, pledges and/or caveats. However, iTaukei land will become more marketable under the amendment, attracting HIGHER lease payments for landowners. Thanks to the equal distribution of
lease monies measure, all iTaukei landowners will continue to receive a fair share of lease monies regardless of their status within the landowning unit.

FACT: Under the 2013 Fijian Constitution, iTaukei land cannot be converted to freehold title. iTaukei landowners also receive 80% of royalties derived from the extraction of minerals from iTaukei land as set out in the Fair Share of Mineral Royalties Act 2018. This benefit is not impacted by the amendment proposed by Bill No. 17 of 2021.

 

FALSE CLAIM: MP Tabuya claims that if the consent of TLTB is no longer required, there is no control over what a lessee can do with the land.

THE TRUTH: Bill No 17 only proposes that the Board’s consent is no longer required in respect of mortgages, charges, pledges and caveats. Lessees are STILL required to apply to the Board for all other dealings such as sales, transfers, assignments, subleases and developments over iTaukei lease land.

This consent requirement remains intact under section 12 of the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940 and its regulations, and as entrenched in a tenant’s lease.

FACT: The TLTB now manages around 48,000 leases compared to 33,394 in 2006, and collects and distributes over $100 million in rents and premiums on an annual basis compared to $37 million in 2008.

 

FALSE CLAIM: MP Tabuya claims that landowners will have no recourse to the courts of law if they are unhappy with the terms of leases and/or actions of the Board or tenants.

THE TRUTH: All Fijians, including landowners, have a constitutionally protected right to have access to justice, including seeking redress from the courts of law. Bill No. 17 will not remove this right. Bill No. 17 will not stop the TLTB from continuing with the current system they have in place of monitoring compliance of lease terms and conditions.

The proposed amendment does not hinder the process and the right of forfeiture and/or re-entry should TLTB lessees breach their lease conditions.

FACT: The State may acquire freehold and iTaukei land for public purposes provided the State pays fair market compensation. This has been the case since colonial times and ensuing constitutions and laws of the country to now. This is not new.

However, unlike freehold land paid for by the State, the State –– under the 2013 Fijian Constitution –– must return land to the iTaukei landowners if it is no longer required for the original public purpose it was alienated for.

 

FALSE CLAIM: MP Tabuya claims that consultations were not held on Bill No. 17.

THE TRUTH: The Solicitor General’s Office consulted with the TLTB Management –– The manager of all iTaukei land in Fiji –– to garner constructive feedback on the Bill.

Under Bill No. 17, the legal requirement for consent for administrative matters –– matters that do NOT affect the rights of Landowners –– will be removed. This makes land more attractive for investment which increases the long-term market value of
iTaukei land and will generates more income for landowners.

MP Tabuya and MP Gavoka may not have read Bill No. 17, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You can read Bill No. 17 on the Fijian Parliament Website at http://www.parliament.gov.fj/.

 



Five Squares 4th Birthday


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.


Tower Insurance
FNPF App
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper