Bill to amend the State Lands Act 1945 has nothing to do with iTaukei land – AG
Saukuru maintains any state land not in use should be returned to the iTaukei landowners

Bill to amend the State Lands Act 1945 has nothing to do with iTaukei land – AG

Saukuru maintains any state land not in use should be returned to the iTaukei landowners

By Vijay Narayan
Thursday 12/05/2022
Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and SODELPA MP, Jese Saukuru

There were repeated interjections today by the Opposition as Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum explained to parliament that the Bill to amend the State Lands Act 1945 had nothing to do with iTaukei land.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the amendment brings about enormous level of relief to thousands of Fijians and also ensure the Lands Department is able to issue proper leases.

He says due to restrictions placed by the law, people for decades were living on land yet there was no legal ability for them to be able to access proper titles by way of lease that could be granted by the state for all persons residing on crown land.

He says the amendment will increase the value of the land the people reside on and they will also be able to access loans from banks including organisations like the Housing Authority of Fiji

Sayed-Khaiyum says at the same time, this will ensure the legal basis of all land, titles and leases are done within the legal framework which gives confidence to people and the economy at large.

According to the Bill, in some instances, occupants of the land have, as a result of dispossession of land or due to political upheaval or cancellation or non-renewal of their leases or licences, resorted to seek refuge on other land, for which they were not lessees under the Act.

The lessees who permitted such persons to use the land in these instances did not obtain the consent of the Director of Lands making the arrangement unlawful under the Act.

The Bill further says many of the lessees cannot be located or do not have the capacity to subdivide the land which they sold a number of years ago.

The Bill seeks to amend the Act to empower the Director of Lands to re-enter such land and cancel any lease, licence or approval notice of lease accordingly. The Director of Lands may only do this upon confirmation of a contravention under the Act by a committee set up for this purpose. The committee shall be chaired by the permanent secretary responsible for housing and community development and include the permanent secretary responsible for lands and the Solicitor-General or his or her nominee, as members.

The Attorney General says this has nothing to do with the Schedule A and B iTaukei land and the state land in question has no claims however SODELPA MP, Jese Saukuru maintained any state land not in use should be returned to the iTaukei landowners.

Sayed-Khaiyum also questions what are they doing to develop iTaukei land.

He also accused SODELPA of trying to have a Land Claims Tribunal however SODELPA Leader, Viliame Gavoka says Sayed-Khaiyum is misleading parliament.

The Bill has been passed.



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