15 Sep 2004

Fiji farmers complain about NLTB fees

3:45 pm on 15 September 2004

A group of indigenous Fijian sugar cane farmers have complained to the government about the high fees they are charged by the Native Lands Trust Board.

The Fiji Times reports that the farmers have lodged their complaint with the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, during his current visit to Vanua Levu.

They told Mr Qarase that the fees and administration costs charged by the NLTB are so high that half of their earnings from harvesting cane are deducted, leaving them with little to live on.

The farmers are also critical of the Fiji Sugar Corporation and the Fiji Development Bank for heavy deductions on loan repayments.

The NLTB charges include processing fees for new contracts, annual stamp duty, land rental, annual lease administration fees, and consent fees for land transfers while the Sugar Corporation deducts money for the supply of sugar, rice and fertilizer.

The NLTB's acting general manager, Semi Tabakanalagi, is quoted as saying the fees have to be paid regardless of whether a tenant is an indigenous landowner or not.