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PM gives assurance on land issue

Ropate Valemei
Friday, July 11, 2014

FOR the first time, land owners will now be entitled to receive a fair share of royalties or money paid to the State for the extraction of minerals from the land or seabed (mining) in fishing right areas.

Speaking at the FijiFirst party campaign in Rewa on Wednesday night, party leader Voreqe Bainimarama said the rights of the landowners were more secure now than they were under the 1997 Constitution.

He told the people of Rewa that calling a Fiji-Indian a Fijian did not mean they would have a share of the land.

"O keda na i taukei ni qele, ni lisi taka na nomuni qele vei ira na lako mai tuba. O ira sa na qai cakava na i wasewasei ni qele, na kena tara kina na veivakatorocaketaki. (Landowners should lease their lands to people from outside. They will sub-divide the land for development)," he said.

He advised villagers to refrain from listening to lies of other politicians on the issue of land because it was already in the constitution.

Information disseminated by the party said the State could use land where there was a need for infrastructure.

"If iTaukei lands are required by the State for the public purpose, for example; if the State wants to build a road or a reservoir, then the State can use the land for that purpose," the party said.

It said this provision had been in our laws even before independence, including the 1997 Constitution.

"But in our constitution, the State can only use land for a public purpose if it pays landowners fair and just compensation at the time of the acquisition."

He said other political parties had been spreading factually and legally incorrect information about the protection of land rights under their constitution.

He said these political parties were saying that iTaukei land was not safe under the 2013 Constitution, the Land Use Decree violated landowner right and the Land Bank eroded the power of the iTaukei Land Trust Board.

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