Passing of Bill will bring enormous level of relief to thousands of Fijians - AG

Passing of Bill will bring enormous level of relief to thousands of Fijians - AG

By Dhanjay Deo
Thursday 12/05/2022
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The amendment to the State Lands Act 1945 will bring about enormous level of relief to thousands of Fijians and also ensure the Lands Department is able to issue proper leases.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum 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.

It says by amending the Act, it will be able to regularise the occupation of these lands and allow the occupants to build permanent homes through the mainstream financial system. 

 






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