Thursday, July 1, 2010

State to on-lease native land via 'land bank'

Fiji Live News - July 02, 2010 

A land bank has been set up through which native owners can allow government to use their property for development purposes and on-lease it at market rates, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has announced.

Delivering the address for the 2010 revised Budget, Bainimarama said potential investors and farmers can sub-lease or lease land from the State for a period of up to 99 years from the land bank.

At a post-Budget press conference, permanent secretary for Lands, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni said: “The NLTB (Native Land Trust Board) will continue to deal with native leases and for interested native land owners who want to give up their land for development, they can visit the land bank and they can give in their land and the land reform unit will address it from there on.”

The land bank is officially known as the Land Use Unit and is established under the Land Use Decree 2010.

Announcing details of the decree in a separate statement, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the unit will only use land that has been designated by native titled landowners, from whom consent will have to be obtained.

Sayed-Khaiyum said that there is currently a substantial amount of both native land and crown land that is vacant and available and not utilised to its full potential. 

“Given that the current land reform policy increases economic development, it is imperative that land is made available for utilisation,” he said.

He said the existing laws pertaining to leasing of both crown and native lands are cumbersome and bureaucratic.

“The long processes and the delay to finalise leases frustrates applicants and therefore reduces the development of the economy in general.”

“The State will, at all times, take into consideration the best interest of the landowners while leasing native land.”

He said the decree will also provide for the leasing of all available crown land.

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