1 Aug 2016

Fiji political leaders trade shots over withheld lease payment

3:15 pm on 1 August 2016

Fiji Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, says his government is empowering indigenous landowners by holding back lease money due to people under the age of 18.

This came after the opposition condemned last week's move by the itaukei Lands Trust Board.

The Trust Board announced that instead of paying out the funds it would keep them in trust until the landowner reached the age of 18.

Fiji Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama

Fiji Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama Photo: RNZI / Vosita Kotoiwasawasa

About 30 thousand young Fijians are affected with the funds amounting to $US6 million dollars.

The opposition questioned the Trust Board's mandate and the lack of consultation.

Mr Bainimarama said his government was going one step further to protect the interests of iTaukei children and ensure they got their fair share when they come of age.

He said the government wanted the money to provide the young people with a springboard for the future.

The Fiji Times reports the opposition's Niko Nawaikula saying the policy is against customary practice and was in breach of the landowners' group rights to look after their resources and affairs independently.