24 Jun 2002

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board considering longer leases

8:20 am on 24 June 2002

Fiji's Native Land Trust Board is considering issuing 50-year leases on

indigenous-owned land to tenant farmers under legislation kown as the Native Land Act.

The Daily Post reports that the NLTB remains strongly opposed to any renewal of leases under the existing legislation known as the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act or ALTA.

The newspaper says this was the stand taken by the majority of board members of the NLTB at a meeting late last week.

An NLTB source was quoted as saying the board is adamant that the ALTA legislation, which was passed in 1976, has to be replaced by the Native Land Act.

It says this is the expressed wish of the indigenous landowners and the Great Council of Chiefs.

Under the ALTA law, leases are for a period of 30 years and the rent formula is fixed while under the Native Land Act leases can be 5, 10, or 15 years going up to 30 years. The leases are also renewable provided the NLTB agrees.

The change in lease legislation was one of the main platforms on which Laisenia Qarase's ruling SDL party won last year's general election.