The National Federation Party says they are deeply concerned that Government is trying to rush changes to the iTaukei Land Trust Act without consultation and that it is arrogant and disrespectful of the Government to rush through changes to indigenous land laws in this way.
Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad says they oppose Bill No 17 and join the calls to have it withdrawn immediately.
Professor Prasad says the Government is saying that it wants to improve business efficiency by eliminating delays in getting TLTB consent for mortgages adding that Government has not consulted TLTB on these changes and it has not consulted anybody.
He further says these changes go much wider than mortgages and landowners have the right to ask why this is happening.
Professor Prasad also says ever since independence, all governments and all mainstream political parties have respected the primacy of land rights for Fiji’s indigenous people.
He adds NFP began in the 1960s as a party representing tenant farmers, but they have always respected the rights of indigenous people to their land.
The NFP Leader says they have always recognized that matters concerning iTaukei land are matters for the iTaukei and they agree that any changes to laws affecting iTaukei land should be widely consulted on and decided on by the iTaukei.
He also says every previous constitution of Fiji had special rules about changing laws relating to iTaukei land.
Professor Prasad claims Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum imposed the 2013 constitution on Fiji and for the first time took away those special rules.
He asks why do they now want to rush through changes without proper consultation.
Professor Prasad says if the problem is that some TLTB consents are slow, why not fix that problem at TLTB.
He says after all, the Prime Minister is the Chairman of TLTB adding that why is it necessary to change the law in such a draconian and dictatorial way.
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