A-G: Land value to improve; Bill 17 to benefit iTaukei

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while delivering the 2021-2022 National Budget. Picture: PARLIAMENT OF FIJI/SUPPLIED

Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there needs to be a holistic approach to understanding how the value of land will be improved under the amendment made to the iTaukei Land Trust Act.

“The Bainimarama Government and the FijiFirst Government under our prime minister have never justified the permanent alienation of land for economic development,” he said during debate on Bill No.17 before it was passed in Parliament yesterday.

“The philosophy is that you can have economic development even with iTaukei land title intact and that’s the philosophy we are trying to follow and the way to make sure that we have that philosophy is that you make iTaukei land attractive for investment purposes.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said a good example of how iTaukei land had increased in value and benefited landowners and the iTaukei people was the way tourism properties had been developed.

He said resort owners had invested heavily in their properties because they were able to “get a mortgage on the land, access the funds and build up that land”.

“What does it do for the iTaukei land? It improves the value of the land.

“So when the value of the land goes up, other unleased land around that land, the value of it goes up also.

“People want to pay more money, they’ve got security of tenure, they’ve got a lease they can readily use and go to the bank – it improves the value for the landowners.”

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