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Land bank expands

Shalveen Chand
Monday, July 07, 2014

THE utilisation of land deposited under the Land Bank Unit has managed to attract about three quarters of a billion dollars worth of investment.

According to the government, there were 64 landowning groups who deposited their land leases with the unit and had been successfully rented out to investors who brought in $730million worth of business to Fiji.

Ministry of Lands and Survey permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa said the Land Use Unit facilitates the efficient leasing of land which was idle and unutilised under terms and conditions that were attractive to the landowner and tenant.

"So far we have registered land that comprises 4388 hectares with 23 leases issued to 19 investors.

"Another 40 mataqali/tokatoka have shown interest in depositing 14,539 hectares," Mr Boseiwaqa said.

"We have made payments to landowners as of May this year with the total money paid to the landowners — $4,586,653.15 and government has received a total of $1,364,211. The designation of iTaukei land has drawn in interest from overseas investors with major projects now on designated land valued at $730m.

"Some local investors, who are interested in commercial farming, have approached us to lease such lands where we consult the landowners first before giving the green light to them."

All land information with the bank should include, land ownership, locality, topography, soil suitability and other relevant datasets.

"The landowners still have full right to their land and we are here to assist them with the utilisation of their land," Mr Boseiwaqa said.

Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama had assured those landowners wanting to utilise the services of the Land Use Unit to market their land that there will be no change in land ownership.

"The land ownership system will remain as it is. In other words the ownership of all lands shall not change," he said.

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