2 Aug 2005

Fiji president urges political rivals to work together to solve land tenure issues

9:43 am on 2 August 2005

Fiji's president has urged its leaders to put politics aside and urgently find solutions to the country's land lease problems.

Ratu Josefa Iloilo made his appeal when opening a new session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

President Iloilo said since 1997 over 5-thousand agricultural leases on indigenous land had expired.

He said a solution was an urgent necessity for the sake of the economy, for communal relations and for long term peace and prosperity.

President Iloilo said the government was prepared to recommend 50-year leases with a possible extension of a further 20 years at a rental of 10% of the unimproved capital value of the land.

As well, it was prepared to incorporate parts of the current Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act into the Native Lands Trust Act under which all indigenous land would be leased.

He said the Native Land Trust Board and the Great Council of Chiefs had given their support to these proposals.

President Iloilo said it was urgent to come to an agreement in the next few months