(B) Land, The Emotive Issue

"Jon"   posted these thoughts as a comment on another posting. I 've re-posted it here because I think his thoughts  merit more  prominence.

So, the government is now going to change the existing land lease law to ensure the NLTB Act doesn’t apply if it is seen to be getting in the way.

There’s the usual justification for this selective abuse of process, ignoring a law which, despite some faults, has worked pretty well for the past 70 years and which has prevented the undoubted anarchy that would have prevailed if developers had been allowed to do their own negotiations with landowners in the past.

That justification is ‘Change the law to allow for the landowners to reap the best possible benefit from the land that belongs to them.’ This is laudable in principle but will, I’m sure, be shown to be derisible in practice since it potentially throws open the gate to anyone (or is it only government ones …?) to negotiate direct with landowners.

Land is the most emotive subject in Fiji and the obvious end result of selectively ignoring the law or rewriting it to suit certain circumstances at certain times is going to be the anarchy that has been staved off by general regard for the sanctity of NLTB leases.

As an example, in the late 80’s the developers of Denarau Island (EIE and its contractors) tried to ignore the law and, in negotiating terms for land fill with very willing landowners, sidelined the NLTB. Several months later this was rectified but by then the landowners (who had pocketed some of the 25% administration fee that would otherwise have been paid to NLTB) found that they had lost huge amounts of topsoil since no EIA had been carried out. Short term gain for long term pain.

If the laws which were enacted to safeguard the landowners in the first place are now selectively ignored, landowners run the risk of being done down in future negotiations. Equally, the more militant landowner units, advised by bush lawyers will cause untold grief for developers, resort owners and private householders to the long term benefit of no one.

By all means streamline the NLTB, investigate and prosecute corrupt practices that its officers might have been guilty of, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

It’s all very well to try to set the stage for the FMF political party to successfully stand for election in 2014, but the misguided and ultimately ignorant comment about law change made by Tikoduadua is going to resonate far beyond an immediate populist appeal to landowners.

It could well put further doubt in the minds of potential investors of the security of leasehold land and that will kill any future gold egg-laying geese.


Free Fiji Land for all said…
Racist colonialists put these laws in place years ago to subjugate the Kai Viti and make sure that they could lease land for a pittance. The NLTB laws also made sure that Indians would never be able to own much land in Fiji, apart from the freehold which the colonialists had already effectively stolen.

It’s high time that this government sets right the wrongs of the past and throws out those archaic laws which are preventing the development that Fiji desperately needs. Full marks to Tikoduadua for being brave enough to state what needs to be done. Now let’s hope that the government follows through on his well thought out comment. We don’t need people like ‘Jon’ who seem to live in the past and ignore the realities of life on the ground here in Fiji.

For your information ‘Jon’, we in Fiji have moved on and are looking at bright future, no thanks to people like you who keep harping on about the past and trying to stop this government in its God given quest to make all of Fiji free for all time
Dream On said…
Dream on
You have got as much chance of getting Fijian land as you have of going to the commonwealth games, driti working for the UN or the dictator going to the Rugby World Cup - which is zero. So get over it, go back out to the sugar cane fields and do some work so that you can pay the outstanding rent and we can pay for the military for looking after you - theres a good lad!!!
Greecy Fiji said…
Mai braather, we will all get the land and you know the reason? The sugar corporation will soon be no more. Just look at the losses it has made this past year as the hardworking Fijian and Indian farmers have seen their hard labour and money wasted by mismanagement. So the obvious thing will have to happen – some farming land will be nationalised and sold on the open market to pay the FSC debts. As this country’s economy sinks further down, more land will have to be nationalised and sold to pay the debts.

My only advice to you braather is to make sure that you don’t keep any money in the FNPF, because that’s the next thing to go. If Greece can go broke, you think Fiji can’t?

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