Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clan supports land changes

by Monika Singh - Friday, January 15, 2010

A LANDOWNING unit has welcomed the idea of getting their land back but feels that lease money should be held in trust by the Native Land Trust Board.

Paula Rawiriwiri, the Turaga ni Yavusa Matanikorovatu, said they were happy with the new development to revoke the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act (ALTA) as this would allow them to lease their own land.

"That is what we, landowners want, to have our land returned to us. Most importantly, we want it leased so our members will benefit for the future of developments in our mataqali, especially for the education of our children and welfare of our own people," he said.

Mr Rawiriwiri said a lot of people wanted to lease land, especially the Indian community who were good farmers.

"But for our mataqali, we will lease our land because majority in our clan are working people and we will not have time to work on the land, which will be a waste," he said.

He said they would welcome any moves to have NLTB hold their money in trust until they need it.

"If it is kept with us, any member of a committee formed to look after that can use money unwisely, or on unnecessary spending and it will totally defeat the purpose of investing for the long term," he said.

Meanwhile, the Soqosoqo Vakamarama says the proposal to revoke ALTA would free landowners to release land for utilisation, and would create security for both landowners and tenants.

"This is because landowners can have tenants for 99 years, and they will have someone they trust with their land," said general secretary Adi Finau Tabakaucoro.

She said having a long term lease would facilitate better planning for the land usage.

"Land has value as long as it is being cultivated or used for some kind of work," she said.

Adi Finau applauded the idea of NLTB and the Fijian Affairs Board encouraging landowners to invest.

"Landowners need to save for their children and future generations and we believe that NLTB has thought about this in detail."

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