The iTaukei Land Trust Board management has released a statement saying Bill No. 17, a proposed amendment to the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940, has come under false and inflammatory attacks by MP Lynda Tabuya, MP Bill Gavoka, and others.
The management says based on the quality of their contributions, they are deeply concerned these people have not read Bill No. 17 at all.
It says Bill No. 17 proposes that consent of the TLTB is no longer required for any mortgage, charge, pledge, or caveat, as well as development, like water and electricity access, on registered leases which are properly issued by the TLTB.
The management says this applies for leases initiated with the agreement of landowning communities.
It says the Bill is fully endorsed by TLTB Management.
The TLTB Management says the Bill does not take away land from landowners, it upholds all constitutional protections, it does not lower the value of iTaukei land, it raises it and the Bill does not reduce lease payments to landowners, it increases them.
The management says Tabuya falsely claims that iTaukei landowners will no longer have a say over their land if Bill No. 17 is passed.
It says the truth is iTaukei land ownership is secure and safe.
The management says the Board’s mandate under section 4 of the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940 to administer land for the benefit of the iTaukei landowners remains intact.
It says before dealing with iTaukei land, whether within reserve or outside of reserve, the Board is still required to consult with the iTaukei landowners as required under section 9.
The management says when dealing with the de-reservation of iTaukei land, the Board is still required to obtain the majority consent of the iTaukei landowners as required under section 17 of the Act and Bill No. 17 will not take away the ability of the iTaukei landowners to determine what happens on their land.
The management says it is the landowners' land and their decision.
It further says the security and ownership of iTaukei land is guaranteed under the 2013 Fijian Constitution.
The TLTB management says in keeping with the protection afforded by the Constitution, Bill No. 17 does not in any way remove from the iTaukei landowners’ ownership over iTaukei land.
It says Tabuya falsely claims iTaukei landowners might not be able to enjoy the same amount of money they are receiving right now after Bill No. 17 is passed.
The management says the landowners will continue to receive full rent and premiums under leases of iTaukei land. It says in fact, these rents and premiums are likely to increase.
It says iTaukei land will become more marketable under the amendment, attracting higher lease payments for landowners.
The TLTB says thanks to the equal distribution of lease monies measure, all iTaukei landowners will continue to receive a fair share of lease monies regardless of their status within the landowning unit.
It says Tabuya also falsely claims that if the consent of TLTB is no longer required, there is no control over what a lessee can do with the land.
The TLTB says Bill No 17 only proposes that the Board’s consent is no longer required in respect of mortgages, charges, pledges and caveats.
It says lessees are still required to apply to the Board for all other dealings such as sales, transfers, assignments, subleases and developments over iTaukei lease land.
The management further says this consent requirement remains intact under section 12 of the iTaukei Land Trust Act 1940 and its regulations, and as entrenched in a tenant’s lease.
The TLTB says they now manage around 48,000 leases compared to 33,394 in 2006, and collect and distribute over $100 million in rents and premiums on an annual basis compared to $37 million in 2008.
It says Tabuya claims that landowners will have no recourse to the courts of law if they are unhappy with the terms of leases and/or actions of the Board or tenants.
The TLTB says all Fijians, including landowners, have a constitutionally protected right to have access to justice, including seeking redress from the courts of law and Bill No. 17 will not remove this right.
It says Bill No. 17 will not stop the TLTB from continuing with the current system they have in place of monitoring compliance of lease terms and conditions.
It further says the proposed amendment does not hinder the process and the right of forfeiture and/or re-entry should TLTB lessees breach their lease conditions.
The TLTB management says Tabuya claims that consultations were not held on Bill No. 17.
However they clarify that the Solicitor General’s Office consulted with the TLTB management, the manager of all iTaukei land in Fiji, to garner constructive feedback on the Bill.
It says under Bill No. 17, the legal requirement for consent for administrative matters - matters that do not affect the rights of landowners - will be removed.
The TLTB management says Tabuya and Gavoka may not have read Bill No. 17, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Please check out the link of the Bill on our website, fijivillage.
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