26th May 02:35 PM
Bill proposes to give 80% of royalties to owners
By Vijay Narayan and Semi Turaga
Thursday 17/05/2018
Acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Good news for resource owners around the country as the Fair Share of Mineral Royalties Bill 2018 has been passed by parliament which states that 80 percent of the royalties will be shared with the landowners.

The bill was agreed to unanimously by parliament with members of the Opposition saying that the bill is good for resource owners.

SODELPA MP Ro. Kiniviliame Kiliraki commended the government for bringing the bill to parliament while another SODELPA MP Viliame Gavoka suggested that 90 percent of royalties be given to resource owners and 10 percent to the state.

SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro also asked if the bill takes into account water that is being extracted and regenerated into electricity.

While speaking on the bill in parliament, Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that the benefit for landowners is unprecedented.

He says it also protects the landowners.

Sayed-Khaiyum also responded to Aseri Radrodro saying that water is collected and not extracted in the case of Monasavu.

Sayed-Khaiyum says Section 30(1) of the Constitution vests

the ownership of all minerals in or under any land or water in the State, provided that the owners of any particular land, whether customary or freehold, or of any particular registered customary fishing rights shall be entitled to receive a fair share of royalties or other money paid to the State in respect of the grant by the State of rights to extract minerals from the land or the seabed in the area of those fishing rights.

He says the 1990 and 1997 constitutions had similar provisions requiring parliament to make laws to share royalties with the landowners however this was not done by the Rabuka and Qarase governments.

The bill states that 80 percent of the royalty will be shared with the owners while 20 percent will go to the State.

The royalties referred to in the bill are royalties paid to the State for the extraction of minerals. In line with the definition of “minerals” in the Mining Act 1965, the term “minerals” in the bill does not include clay, gravel, sand or other common mineral substances.

The bill states that all royalties received by the State are to be held in trust by the ministry responsible for mineral resources until the royalties are shared. If it is communally‑owned land, the Ministry must ensure that the share of the royalty that is to be paid to the owners is equally distributed to all the owners.

When the legislation comes into effect, the landowners in Vanua Levu are expected to get 80 percent of the royalties paid so far for bauxite mining.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the total amount of money held in trust is over 1 million dollars.

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