PM hits out at Ro Filipe over land issue

May 16, 2022 7:00 am

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. [File Photo]

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has hit out at Opposition Member of Parliament, Ro Filipe Tuisawau with various irrelevant statements he made in parliament last week.

Speaking during the iTaukei Affairs – Na iLalakai program on Radio Fiji One, Bainimarama says that Ro Filipe during last week’s parliament sitting highlighted that the current government has done little to Fijians, particularly the i-taukei.

Bainimarama says these comments can ignite tension and raises a question of where he’s been all this time, during the reign of the FijiFirst Government.

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Ro Filipe informed parliament that there is a need to conduct more dialogue and consultation with relevant stakeholders regarding any changes or amendments to the land policies and regulations.

“There’s been increasing grievances on the sale of native land from the landowning unit from the colonial days to now and many remain unresolved. The i-taukei understand that most variable lands in Fiji today are owned privately and by the State and are seeking the returns of these lands where they see that there has been dispossession in the sense that the original acquisition of such land has been unfair, unjustified and without equitable compensation. “

Bainimarama blatantly says that issues regarding unfair land dealings or land alienation was prevalent in the past 30 to 50 years.

He stresses that the current government then stepped in to rectify this land issue, as its ripple effects were greatly felt by the i-taukei landowners.

The Prime Minister adds these i-taukei landowners were manipulated under the archaic land policies, introduced by the past governments, which includes the then Soqosoqo Vakavulewa ni iTaukei and Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua political parties.

“Now it’s important to protect the i-taukei land. Since 2017, your government has put together strategies and policies to protect the land. This will also halt land swaps, under the SVT and SDL government. Some i-taukei landowners lost their land from Nadroga and Nadi, particularly in Denarau. Some still cry for it, but nothing can be done about it as it’s been bounded by the law. That was when the current government stepped in to remove this law for the protection of i-taukei land.”

Bainimarama says that a little over 90 percent of lands in Fiji are owned by i-taukei and 10 percent are State and crown land.

Most of the state land is used for various development projects and urbanization, amongst other infrastructure work.