CAPTION: Prime Minister Bainimarama meets with a Sigatoka farmer in this file photo.
The Bainimarama Government has strengthened the protection of iTaukei land by closing a loophole that allowed some of it to be converted into freehold land.
Before leaving for France, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama proposed an amendment to the State Lands Act to end this practice – which was approved by Cabinet – and has now been gazetted.
This previous practice was not transparent and had been used by previous Governments to profit at the expense of the iTaukei landowners.
Speaking today about the new amendment, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that despite having provisions in previous Constitutions that entrenched iTaukei land laws, this practice was still allowed to happen.
“This demonstrates that having entrenched provisions did not safeguard iTaukei land ownership,” the Attorney-General said. “The law must always be practical and effective in ensuring the protection rights – including property rights.”
The Attorney-General said that the Bainimarama Government’s policy is the absolute protection of the rights of the iTaukei not to have their land permanently alienated from them.
“The new Decree ends this unfair practice once and for all”, he said. “Under this Decree, any iTaukei land which is exchanged for portions of State land can no longer be exchanged for private freehold land.”
The Attorney-General said the Bainimarama Government was committed to ending past practices that denied iTaukei landowners clear and transparent processes.