30 Aug 2006

Fiji NLTB urged to move to market system

6:54 pm on 30 August 2006

The Fiji government is being called to move to a market system for land leases rather than leaving them up to the Native Lands Trust Board, the NLTB.

The executive director of the University of the South Pacific's Institute of Advanced Development Studies, Professor Ron Duncan, says landowners should manage their own assets.

He says the idea that you need to have some government body managing people's assets for them is a very paternalistic one with a long history that has been proven not to give good results.

Mr Duncan says the constant complaints by landowners and tenants over the leasehold arrangements reached through the NLTB indicate that it is not doing its job properly.

"It would be just so easy to set up a market-based system where leases were auctioned and for people to put in tenders. You then have the market reveal what is the value of that land rather than as I say, setting up arbitrary numbers."

Mr Duncan says the NLTB is not only setting rates but preventing landowners from developing any entrepreneurship.