"THERE is no threat whatsoever to iTaukei ownership of our land."
This was the comment made by Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama during the opening of the Nalotawa nursing station in Ba yesterday.
He said he could not start campaigning until his proposed party was officially registered but as Prime Minister, he wanted to address the issue of iTaukei land.
"If anyone tells you that your land is threatened in any way, do not believe them," he said.
"They are trying to stir up trouble for their own political ends. They are trying to instil fear in you. They are lying. In fact under my government, we have strengthened the protection of iTaukei land."
Rear Admiral Bainimarama said in the past, some politicians used a loophole in the law to sell off portions of iTaukei land.
He said the protection of iTaukei land was also outlined in the Constitution.
"Section 27 of the Constitution states that the state can compulsorily acquire property when necessary for a public purpose such as building a road or an airport. This has been the case with every government since colonial times and certainly with every constitution since independence. Our new Constitution stipulates that this compulsory acquisition can only take place after the owner is paid just and equitable compensation.
"Section 28 states any iTaukei land acquired by the State for public purposes shall revert to the customary owners if the land is no longer required by the State. In other words, you don't lose it forever. This is only until the State doesn't need it anymore."
According to Rear Admiral Bainimarama, there are other benefits to landowners that have never existed before such as the right to a fair share of royalties for any minerals found under their land or under the seabed in waters where they have customary fishing rights.
"Also, for the first time in any of our Constitutions, the Bill of Rights says that any land leased by landowners must provide them with a fair and equitable return."