16 Nov 2005

Fiji landowners suffer over lease policies

2:46 pm on 16 November 2005

Fiji's parliament has been told that indigenous landowners have suffered millions of dollars in losses as a result of the decision not to renew expiring agricultural leases under the existing legislation.

Mahendra Chaudhry says many frustrated landowners have reverted to the renewal of leases under the current ALTA legislation because of the monetary loss that has occurred from the non-renewal of leases.

Mr Chaudhry says recent public hearings by the parliamentary select committee on land were told that landowners were quite willing to lease their land rather than see it lie idle.

He said 5,700 leases had expired from 1997 to the end of 2004, of which only 1,500 were renewed.

Mr Chaudhry says sugar cane production has declined from over four million tonnes a year to under three million tonnes.