Conversion of Crown Land Legal: Vasu

March 16, 2024 7:36 am

Minister for iTaukei Affairs Ifereimi Vasu highlights that the objective of the inquiry made by the iTaukei Land Trust Board on the conversion of Crown Land to iTaukei land is to determine if the claims received from the iTaukei landowning units are valid.

While responding to the President’s speech, the Minister highlighted that iTLTB continued to receive requests from landowning units with insufficient land.

However, Minister Vasu notes that in 2011, the Fiji First Government issued a directive that such claims could no longer be entertained, which ended any hope that the landowning units had.

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The iTaukei Minister states that any conversion land under Section 18 shall be deemed to be an iTaukei.

“Section 18 of the iTaukei Land Trust Act states, and I quote: If the Minister is satisfied that the land belonging to any mataqali is insufficient for the use, maintenance, or support of its members, it shall be lawful for the Minister by proclamation to set aside such state land or land acquired for or on behalf of iTaukei by purchase, as in his or her opinion may be required for the use, maintenance, or support of such mataqali.”

Minister for iTaukei Affairs Ifereimi Vasu [Source: Parliament of the Republic of Fiji]

Vasu stresses that Section 8 of the State Lands Act permits the government to return iTaukei land used by the state back to the land-owning unit.

Opposition member Sanjay Kirpal questioned the move by the iTaukei Land Trust Board on the objective of the inquiry.

“Crown grant is transferred, subject to the provisions of the Crown Grant Act, upon thorough investigation of the need for a particular state land by members of the mataqali. It is done when there is a scarcity of land for the members of the mataqali and not for the sake of some politicians own political gain, which seems to be the main reason behind public consultations.”

The Minister reaffirms that the land-owning unit is getting back the ownership rights that the previous government had taken away from them, and there was no ulterior motive for these consultations as they were within the bounds of the law.