10 Nov 2009

Fiji Native Land Trust Board may need overhaul, says academic

10:01 pm on 10 November 2009

The IMF and the World Bank are both in Fiji to look at requests for assistance from the interim regime over its plans for land reform.

The interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has said land reform is needed to save the sugar industry and open up more opportunities for tourism and agriculture.

Professor Biman Prasad, Dean of the Faculty Economics at the University of the South Pacific, suggests a state role to ensure land is used productively and owners get fair return.

He says the Native Land Trust Board, which operates on behalf of indigenous landowners, might need to review how it operates

"The NLTB could have been much more efficient and pro-active organisation and there are views that in some ways it hasn't been in the past and I think the new economic imperatives and the changing populaton structure and the movement of the people from the rural to the urban areas is going to demand new ways of doing things."

Professor Prasad says he would like to see leasing legislaton discussed so that leases for agriculture purposes are increased from the current 30 year maximum.