Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, February 22, 2010
Lease payments to Fijian landowners will no longer be paid out in cash by the Native Lands Trust Board from the 1st of April.
General Manager, Alipate Qetaki, says the decision was put in place as a security measure to safeguard the money, NLTB staff and the landowners.
Speaking to FBC News Qetaki said the movement of large amounts of cash during lease money payouts in May and November every year has always been a concern for the Board.
The NLTB Board had shelved the decision for some time but decided to implement the policy at it’s last board meeting last year. Landowners are currently being paid in cash twice a year, in May and November, and Qetaki said it is becoming very dangerous to move the large amounts of cash, some of which amount to $20m at a time.
This he said, was the main reason the Board had decided to stop cash payments of lease money. Instead all landowners have been asked to open bank accounts where money can be deposited each time payments are made by the Board.
Qetaki said there is another advantage of paying money to Bank accounts and that is the Banks will have the history of each land owner’s credit standing which will assist them when they wish to borrow to start up a business or a development project.
Meanwhile Qetaki said landowners are starting to heed the Board’s encouragement to lease their own mataqali land to increase their income. A mataqali member has leased 22 acres of their land overlooking Suva Harbour to do a residential subdivision.