15 Mar 2006

Vanuatu chiefs concerned over land valuation process

7:49 pm on 15 March 2006

The Vanuatu national council of chiefs says the government should not rate the value of land on a cash basis.

This comes after the ministry of lands introduced a land valuer code, which will determine the monetary value of land for lease.

Every person offering land for lease will have to register under the new code.

The secretary general of the national council of chiefs, Selwyn Garu, says most people wishing to lease their land are forced to do so, because they need the money to pay for everyday life expenses.

"The situation forces them to lease land. If you leave them alone they may not wish to lease the land. Now they have to lease land to get money in order to pay for school fees and everything else. But we will have to determine if that is a good thing for the community or not. But as I said land provides everything to the community. If you lease that land out you may become dependent on cash, on money."

Land is communally owned in Vanuatu, but people can lease land for 75 years.

Both sides can choose to renew the contract for another 75 years.