23rd August 07:16 PM
Waqanika claims that Land Use Act takes away landowners power to negotiate for their land
By Iva Danford and Timoci Qaranivalu
Wednesday 31/10/2018
SODELPA candidate Tanya Waqanika at a campaign meeting in Namadai Settlement

SODELPA candidate Tanya Waqanika has claimed that the Land Use Bank is not good for the iTaukei landowners however the Ministry of Lands has confirmed that the total amount of money paid out to landowners through the Land Bank in the last 4 years is $9.2 million.

Waqanika claimed in a campaign meeting in Namadai Settlement that the Land Use Act takes away the landowners power to negotiate for their land and gave an example of the Bauxite mining in Nawailevu Bua, that had been leased to a Chinese company.

She also claimed that before the 20 year lease expired, the company was given another 99 year lease.

Waqanika says that after 2 years, 100 million tonnes of top soil had been removed from the mine and that the lease had been extended for another 99 years.

When questioned by Fijivillage on Waqanika’s claims, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources Malakai Finau confirmed that the total amount of land designated in the Land Bank for the past 4 years is 36 parcels of land with a total area of 5,959.4312 hectares.

Finau also confirms that the land leases for Nawailevu Mining area has not been extended to 99 years as the term of the Mining Lease is for 20 years.

He says in fact there are no 99 years leases for the mining conducted in Nawailevu.

Finau says that the earliest of 20 years leases were issued in 2011 and is very much current given that it is just 7 years into the term.

He stresses that there is no renewal of leases to 99 years as claimed.

According to the Land Use Unit, 60% of the members of a landowning unit have to agree to deposit their iTaukei land into the Land Bank and this land should be free from any leases.

The lease rental under the Land Bank is based on market rates and the landowners receive the full amount as there is no administration fees involved.

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