11 Aug 2010

Vanuatu chiefs fear foreigners gaining control of more land

3:28 pm on 11 August 2010

Vanuatu's National Council of Chiefs has reiterated calls for a Government rethink of its moves allowing foreigners easy access to customary land.

The new Land bill was passed in the last parliamentary session, though is yet to be signed into law by the President.

The Council's CEO, Chief Selwyn Garu Vira Tabe, says they are taking a firm stand to try and ensure land remains under the control of customary owners, though they understand the need for some economic development.

He says they don't want even more encouragement for customary land to come under foreign control.

"In a few days, I will be meeting with the Head of State, to discuss the resolution of the National Council to stop, to refrain, from signing that, and that for us to discuss more the effect of that Act that if issued, how would it impact on landowners and the overall management of their land."

Efate's chief council's president, Chief Kalkot Mormor, says he's concerned that close to 80-percent of the land where Port Vila stands is now foreign owned.