MP rejects land plan

APIA – Samoa Member of Parliament for Vaimauga Sasae, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa, has rejected a plan to allow foreign investors to use customary land lease as mortgage to borrow money from the bank.

He is worried that the loophole gives investors room to manipulate local land owners, which could potentially lead to the alienation of customary lands.

The Member of Parliament expressed concerns in Parliament last week during the debate of the Alienation of Customary Land Amendment Bill 2017.

“I strongly reject the mortgaging of customary lands,” he said.

“That’s the issue I have with this law. We’ve been leasing customary lands for a long time now and nothing has happened, it is still owned by our families, villages and districts. But I am worried about an investor using the land as mortgage for the bank.”

Mr Sulamanaia said this should not be allowed.

“If an investor comes, he should bring his own money. I understand from the law that this can only be done if the family agrees to have the land mortgaged. Still the allowance of the lease to be mortgage leaves room for a foreigner to manipulate our sa’o (family paramount chief) because the sa’o will find it so easy to approach the investor in advance the payment.”

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