Politics

PM: iTaukei landowners empowered with options

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said landowners shouldn’t let his political opponents tell them that i-taukei were worse off under this Government. The Prime Minister said the i-taukei had ownership of their land guaranteed in the Constitution. BAINIMARAMA: “Because the truth is that our prospects have never been better. We have our ownership of the land guaranteed in […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

August 2, 2016 10:19 am

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said landowners shouldn’t let his political opponents tell them that i-taukei were worse off under this Government.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. (Peni Shute/Newswire)
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. (Peni Shute/Newswire)

The Prime Minister said the i-taukei had ownership of their land guaranteed in the Constitution.

BAINIMARAMA: “Because the truth is that our prospects have never been better. We have our ownership of the land guaranteed in our Constitution for all time. “

The PM said he was proud of the initiative to provide young i-Taukei landowners with a financial nest egg at the age of 18.

BAINIMARAMA: “This is going to come from the lease monies owed to them that we are investing on their behalf and that they can access when they reach voting age. The i’Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) is depositing $12.5 million in trust for 30,634 young landowners registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula.”

“The amount currently held in trust differs for each young landowner and ranges up to $99,000. The interest earned over time will boost these savings. And when the beneficiaries turn 18, the Government will also provide them with proper advice to manage the funds most effectively.”

He added that in the past, someone else decided how lease monies would be distributed, but they have now empowered individual i-taukei and given them options.

BAINIMARAMA: “In the past, someone else decided how lease monies would be distributed. But we have empowered individual i’taukei and given them options and choices. Given them their fair share of the proceeds from the lease of their land.”

The Prime Minister said that his political opponents wanted that power to be taken away again.

BAINIMARAMA: “My political opponents want that power to be taken away again. But I believe the vast majority of the i-taukei want to be able to choose for themselves. And I am determined to give them that choice, going one step further now to protect the interests of i-taukei children and ensure that they too obtain their fair share when they come of age. To provide them with a springboard into the future.”

Meanwhile, Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula in a statement said that the PM and i-Taukei Land Trust Board should know that the 30,000 i-Taukei minors were not landowners.

NAWAIKULA: “I’m aware the PM has announced, as Chairman of ITLTB, that ITLTB will deposit $12.5M in trust for over 30,000 minors to await their 18th Birthday. My first comment is, I wish to tell the PM to get out of ITLTB.”

Hon Nawaikula said it was the mataqali and yavusa that were landowners, and it had its decision-making processes.

NAWAIKULA: “The Prime Minister must therefore get out and stop meddling in the resources and affairs of the indigenous Fijians. The Prime Minister and ITLTB should know that those 30,000 minors are not landowners, it is the Mataqali’s  and Yavusa’s that are the landowners and it has its own decision making process so that , unlike English laws, you cannot say beforehand who is entitled to this or that. The landowning unit must first sit down according to customary practice to decide who is entitled & for what amount.”

“This policy is against customary practice & is therefore in breach of their group rights to look after their resources and affairs independently and especially to be consulted and give their prior and informed consent.”

The SODELPA MP added that Bainimarama should not be TLTB Chairman and should not be the appointing authority of its Board.

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