MEDIA REALEASE: FIJIAN PRIME MINISTER REVEALS EXTENT OF THE RETURN OF EXTINCT MATAQALI LAND

The Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Voreqe Bainimarama, has revealed that more than 80 per cent of the existing portions of extinct Mataqali land have been processed through the new Register of iTaukei lands and allocated to the Yavusa and other claimants. He said that barring any complications, all remaining allocations would be finalised by the middle of next year.

The Prime Minister was to have provided the information in answer to a written question in the Parliament today by SODELPA member Ratu Naiqama Lalabalevu. But the Opposition withdrew the question at the last moment. The Prime Minister said he was releasing the information anyway because the Fijian people deserved to know how successful the program has been.

“I don’t understand why the Opposition withdrew this question but I can only suspect that they had hoped to embarrass the Government and then discovered that this was a good news story that would work to our advantage. But let me tell the Fijian people precisely what is happening”.

The Prime Minister said a committee has been appointed with responsibility for the return of extinct lands that included the General Manager of the iTaukei Lands Trust Board, the Chairman iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the iTaukei Affairs Board.

“The work involves creating a new Register of iTaukei Lands or RTL for lands under both Schedule A and Schedule B.

Schedule A lands are those portions whose ownership was already extinct during the first sitting of the Lands Commission and in which the ownership was known but there were no surviving members. 93 per cent of these lands have now been transferred from the state to the iTaukei Lands Trust Board, the Yavusa or other claimants.”, he said.

“ The second category, Schedule B, are those portions of land whose ownership was not determined during the first sitting of the Lands Commission and for which there were no claimants. In the case of Schedule B, 68 per cent of transfers have been completed.

And in a third category – the case of extinct Mataqali lands – 82 per cent of the transfers have been completed”.

The Prime Minister said the work of identifying and allocating extinct lands had been extremely painstaking and time consuming but a rigorous process had been followed that deserved the confidence of all stakeholders.

“We have had to be extremely careful with these allocations to ensure that there is widespread consultation, that are no disputes and challenges and that justice is not only done but seen to be done. With respect to the three categories, on average 81 per cent of the work has already been completed and the remainder should be finalised by the middle of 2016”, the Prime Minister concluded.