Land Minister, Filimoni Vosarogo. [Source: Parliament of Fiji/ Facebook]
Minister for Lands Filimoni Vosarogo has acknowledged the concerns raised about the land bank system, stating that it would be illegal and a financial tragedy to bring it to an end without proper consultation.
The system has seen some lessees invest a large amount of funds, while others are looking for investment, and Vosarogo has stressed the importance of considering their interests.
However, the Minister has also highlighted the cost incurred by the government in the land bank system, with services such as surveys and valuations being borne by the government.
“Government must consider the cost that it incurs in these land bank system because as you would understand, all services cost under the land bank is absorbed by government- surveys valuation, for example, are borne by government since 2011, until 2020 to 2023 budgetary year $18.1 million have been spent by the land management use division of the ministry and that has managed to bring in $11.4 million to the land-owning units.”
Vosarogo states that in the past decade, the government has spent $18.1 million on these services, but has only received revenue of $573,430.63.
This, he says raises questions about the role of the Lands Ministry in administering land that should perhaps be handled by the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB).
Vosarogo has emphasized that the coalition government will not pass laws without proper consultation and public discourse, unlike the past government. He has pledged to consult with the various land-owning units and lessees and to iron out any legal issues that arise.
If the land bank system is to be removed, Vosarogo has promised to provide a transition of those leases under a specially protected lease scheme to the TLTB, through a bill that will be amended after consultation and debate in Parliament.