19 Oct 2005

Cane Growers Council in Fiji says late rental payments covered by arrangement

8:05 pm on 19 October 2005

The Sugar Cane Growers council in Fiji says it will protect and stand by members if they're unreasonably evicted.

The council's chief executive officer, Jaganath Sami, was speaking after the Native Lands Trust Board announced that it was taking action to recover all its rental arrears, which it says amounts to 8.5 million US dollars.

The NLTB says of the 31,600 leases it oversees, the agricultural sector makes up the bulk of the money owed but it's not just the sugar cane farmers who are behind with payments.

Mr Sami says it won't be easy to evict anyone who's late with rent if they're covered by the existing arrangement.

"The Sugar Cane Growers council will protect and stand by any cane grower tenant if he's unreasonably evicted. But, I think since there is an arragement by the Native Land Trust Board to recover the rent directly from the cane proceeds, it would not be just simple plain sailing to say, look your rent is one month late, and now you need to be evicted."

Jaganath Sami.

The NLTB says if rental arrears are not paid, court action will be taken, possibly leading to eviction.