People's Charter Pillar 6 (Land) : For Discussion

It would be useful to tick off the recommendations government has already done and others still in progress. If you need assistance write land in the Search this Blog facility.


Making more land available for productive and social purposes

Critical Problems and Issues:
  • Ethnonationalists and those politicians who seek power on the basis of divisive, race-based politics have tended to make land a highly emotive issue.
  • The principal issue regarding land in Fiji is not one of ownership; it is about access, its productive use and ensuring an equitable sharing of benefits. The issue of ownership is fully protected under the Constitution, and must so remain.
  • Vast amounts of land in Fiji currently lie idle or are greatly underutilized.
  • The sharp growth in the numbers of people living in squatter settlements in Fiji is alarming and troublesome. It is estimated that close to 13% of Fiji’s population live in over 200 squatter settlements around the country. The greater Suva area has the highest number of squatters, with Nasinu dubbed theSquatter Town”. It is estimated that, if squatter settlement programmes remain static, by 2010 the Suva/Nausori corridor will have 15,000 squatter households with 100,000 people. This will place a large strain on the entire urban infrastructure, such as water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, traffic congestion and social services.
  • A major national challenge is not only to increase the supply of land, under acceptable leasing arrangements, for agricultural, commercial or social purposes but also to transform the capital inherent in land into capital that can be used either to develop that land or as collateral in the financial market or for other economic and social purposes.
The Way Forward: The following key measures and actions must be taken with due priority and urgency:
  • Create a market for leased land, through sustainable lease arrangements, to improve accessibility to all users.
  • Make land available for housing as well as infrastructure development in both rural and urban areas with government playing a key facilitating role. Formalise “vakavanua” or informal settlement on all types of land.
  • Ensure security of tenure and equitable returns to both landowners and tenants through a market-based framework for utilisation of land.
  • Establish a Land Use Advisory Board including a National Land Register and a Land Use Development Plan.
  • Empower indigenous landowners’ rights to access and lease native land, to effectively spearhead individual indigenous landowner’s participation in commerce and
  • entrepreneurship.
 For the detailed recommendations and proposed implementation actions, see the Report on the State of the Nation and the Economy.

Comments

harca said…
In early 2007 Frank ensured us all land issues would be solved by 2009 - including the whole sugar industry. How successful was he in delivering this - well he wasn't. How successful is he now a year and a half past his own target ? Some small steps at best. At what point does Frank become accountale for his own charter or does he have the right to just keep on revising it or ignoring parts of it ?
Scott said…
There is no 'capital inherent in land'. There may be a price but that is not capital. Capital is a social relation, and only the labour applied to land, either in the form of living labour or 'dead labour' ie machinery makes it productive. This description applies to Fiji and everywhere else.
Part of the difficulty of understanding the current 'land grab' which is occurring in many countries lies in separating out activities which are speculative, and unproductive, and those which are productive. The latter have historically taken two forms, smallholders and largeholdings. An unknown amount of the current land acquisition is aimed at expanding large-scale farming by agrofirms from China, India, Australia, PNG, Fiji and other countries, while removing smallholders.
Land ownership, whether by ethnic Fijians or others, is intrinsically unproductive: it is the application of labour alone which makes land productive. The People's Charter will only facilitate an improvement in living standards of Fiji's people if it stimulates the relation of productive capital and destroys the activity of rentiers, whether chiefs or anyone else.
This relation can either involve large firms employing machinery and labour, or smallholders producing crops for markets and purchasing manufactured goods. The latter will require a major expansion of agricultural extension and other state services, so the People's Charter's statement on land needs to be coupled with a commitment to provide such services if agricultural in Fiji is to be capitalised in the smallholder form.

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